Scientific Discovery and Play

Andy Carvin recently spoke with Alan Alda, who exulted in how the act of play leads many scientists to discover new and wondrous things about our world (see more at PBS Teachers — Alan Alda: the Play’s the Thing).

I’ve spent a good deal of time in the K-5 classroom and found that there is a great site for letting kids — and adults, mind you — play. I found that the kids could be quite inventive. They displayed problem solving skills and creativity that I had not often seen in their assignments that asked for one correct answer. I enjoyed playing with the tools on the site, too, so I’ve put the link below:

Invention at Play — http://www.inventionatplay.org/index.html 

There are several different ways to play and create and invent on the site. Some you’ll find more useful that others. Try them all and let kids explore them — it’s fun and can lead to some great discoveries. These are qualities that are often forgotten or bypassed in today’s classroom as the quest for higher achievement scores often leads to teaching to the test. Perhaps playing with these tools will bring back some of the joy you once experienced as you discovered something new.

Go ahead. Play. I dare you.

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