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Earth Magma Kids Science Experiment: Learning from ‘Fails’

earth magma science experiment for kids

Alright – so I share our art and craft projects here week after week – with much aplomb – and you’ve admired them and showered us with encouraging comments and ‘likes’ (and I want you to know that I truly, earnestly appreciate your support). Some of you have said – “What a brilliant team you mom-daughter duo are”. And, we’ve accepted your compliments graciously; sometimes blushingly! ha ha!

Sure! Brilliant we are – at ‘exploring’ many ways of doing art, craft, learning and tinkering.

But, I have to share something with you – that you don’t know about us. I have to confide in you that a lot of these glorious explorations of ours – so often end up being flops. Really. Lots of them!

Read on to know how we take those ‘fails’. And, check out a magma science experiment that went through many ‘fails’ before we were able to tackle.

You’ve not seen those ‘fails’ on the blog here – until now! But, if you could sneak peek, you would probably end up liking my blog a little less. May be a ‘lot’ less (oops!)

It’s true. Our experiments and ideas have flopped often. We end up feeling disheartened. Sometimes we keep trying, other times – we give up. A bunch of times Pari trails off leaving her project incomplete.

We’re not so brilliant after all….

And, this week has been one such – sprinkled with more flops than success.

  • We did a science experiment that looked easy peasy. But it brought unexpected agony before tasting a ‘little’ joy
  • We started a messy yarn+glue project – with much spunk and sureness. But, it wasn’t to be. Is still lying unfinished
  • We played pretend play yesterday – turned out to be one of the most enjoyable activity for Pari in recent times! But, towards the end, one small misunderstanding between her and me send her into a tear-jerking frenzy. And, she declared me a “very badmaash mamma” (“badmaash”meaning – naughty)

Phew! It’s hard being a hands-on, artsy mamma…

What the heck – it’s hard being a MAMMA (truth be told)!

Having said that, may I dare say that these ‘flops’and ‘fails’ are an integral part of our learning and character building endeavours. Well, it really depends on how we take them. From what I’ve experienced, they indirectly motivate us to keep trying.

Sure, they do dampen our spirit for a while. But, only temporarily.

I’d like to share something meaningful that the Children’s art author – the brilliant and experienced MaryAnn Kohl said when we were talking about ‘fails’.

She said – “The project may not be a fail, but the kid’s acceptance of it can be. And sometimes the project is actually a fail but the kids come up with a new way to enjoy it. You just never know!

So true.

Now, the project that was our ‘flop’of the week. Well, almost!

An ‘apparent’ flop. Because, in retrospect,  I’ve learned that the ‘flop’ didn’t fail our spirit.

And, we eventually tasted (relative) success after trying repeatedly although the results were not satisfying. Sigh..

melted rocks magma science experiment with kids

The experiment (from this book) was about learning how ‘magma’ (molten rock) formed under earth’s crust manages to rise above its surface.

The science behind ‘magma’ is that – the rocks that melt (magma) in the earth’s mantle (due to temperature as high as 1,500 degree C) rises because it’s hotter and hence lighter than the semi-liquid rocks around it.

To conduct the experiment, we needed:

  1. Two jars – one big and the other small (the small jar should be able to fit inside the big one with space around it)
  2. Food colour – liquid or powder. (you could try concentrated water colour too)
  3. Hot water (for the small jar), Cold water (for the big one)
  4. Cling film/cellophane paper and elastic band to cover the top of the small jar
  5. Sharpened pencil
Purpose of the experiment is to demonstarte that hot liquid or water is lighter than cold water and hence it will rise up. This is how magma comes above the earth’s surface.
  1. Pour some liquid food colour (any colour) into the small jar and add hot water to it upto the brim
  2. Cover the top of the jar with cling film. (if you use cellophane paper etc, make sure you tie it with an elastic band)
  3. Make two tiny holes in the cling film by poking with sharpened pencil
  4. Place the small jar into the bigger one
  5. Pour cold water from a jug into the space around the small jar – upto a level much above the small jar
  1. The coloured water (hot) from the smaller jar starts to move upward and mixes with the cold water outside turning it red
  2. it’s fascinating to see the coloured water squirting out (ours moved rather slowly unlike the picture in the book)
  3. The hot water moves outside but the cold water does not get inside the small jar!
Our flop-story:
We couldn’t get the coloured water to rise upward and outside.

It stubbornly stayed within the jar inspite of the water being really hot and inspite of the holes.In the first attempt, we thought our water may have gotten cold. So, we replaced it with hot water. The coloured water would still not move. We suspected the holes are probably smaller. Poked the pencil a little more to enlarge the holes.

But, no success!

The third time around (by this time the water got cold again, so changed it), we tinkered again with the size of the holes. Nothing happened – initially.

science experiment for earth study for kids

Pari poked a little more and the red water started gushing out. Voila! The whole thing looked blood red now!

Pari said – “yay, we did it”!

The pictures in the book look much more exciting. But, tasting ‘some success’ was not any less exciting either.

And, what’s more important is – we did not give up.

Even when we were stuck, I couldn’t help noticing Pari was trying her best to identify the problem and kept suggesting work-around. She was the one who told me – “I hink the holes we’ve made are much bigger than required”.There was conviction in her voice as if she’s stumbled upon the exact issue. We were more like a team of equals rather than me being the adult in charge.

I must tell you – from this ‘flop’experiment, I learned a lot about ‘çollaborating’ with kids and working with them like a team rather than from a position of  – ‘I-know-best’.

What have you learned from your ‘flops’ and ‘fails’ – with the projects that you do with your child/students?

P.S. Check out more science experiments here.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ann January 21, 2012, 4:14 am

    We have what seems like more than our fair share of failures too… I think it is the nature of design, experimentation, and trying new things. I get disappointed too when thing don’t work and I can’t “use” them. But as you have shown – you can and do “use” them! Failures teach us so much – like you said – we must learn to cope with the disappointment, we learn perseverance, problem solving, optimism, and it all leads to eventual success! Thank you for your honesty, it is comforting!

  • Rashmie January 23, 2012, 5:09 am

    Thank you, my dear, for bringing your input to this subject. Totally agree – failures help us learn perseverance, problem solving and optimism.

    Failures are what teach us to be resilient…

    I LOVE your company :)

  • Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas January 26, 2012, 6:31 pm

    what a lovely post! We too have many fails, unfinished projects and emotional moments!

    I agree that they are true learning experiences and vital to a child’s understanding of the world. after all, not everything will be easy in life. Not everything will work the first time. Though it is difficult for them at this age, it is also important to allow them time to come to understand this and learn how to properly cope with it as well.

    Well done to both of you! Pari exhibited wonderful problem solving, determination, focus & perseverance! All wonderful traits that will benefit her in life & she is learning them through these wonderful interactions & activities with you.