Incoming sixth graders think they love science; but what many of them really love is the elation they feel when observing the reaction between vinegar and baking soda as it foams out of a model volcano. What can be learned from the vinegar and baking soda model of a volcano? Did the student really not know that magma comes out of a volcano?
The “wow” factor in science education is fine, but students need to understand that science is not all bells and whistles. Science education needs to provide students the opportunity to develop abstractions of natural phenomena, and to test and revise their abstractions until they can learn something new about the actual phenomena. You just can’t get there with a classic model volcano.
I am excited for this school year; another opportunity to help my students more fully understand the nature of science.