With Impatience Comes Ingenuity



It is amazing the ingenuity that comes with impatience. Today my new class was measuring permeability of sand, soil, and gravel. While measuring the permeability of sand, one group grew impatient after 8 minutes of holding their water-filled sand over a beaker and waiting for the water to travel through the medium. So they built the contraption above and started working on questions in their lab while waiting. When they did this, I decided to grab the teachable moment while it was there.


I drew everyone’s attention to the contraption. I asked the group to explain why they made the cup holder. They responded because they were getting tired of holding the cup while it drained. So I pointed out the scientific and engineering practices they engaged in; defining a problem and designing a solution.   I complimented them on their creativity, while the rest of the class built the same contraption so they could work on the questions in their lab.


The building of the contraption reminded me of the importance of engaging students in the practices of science to create a deeper understanding of content. Although building the contraption was not originally a part of the lab, nor did it increase the understanding of permeability, it did engage the students in the scientific and engineering practices. This in turn involved the students in the design of their own learning, creating a more in-depth understanding.

2 thoughts on “With Impatience Comes Ingenuity”

  1. I love this! Not only did they engage in science and engineering practices, but they also were encouraged and praised for their thinking. You have clearly created a safe environment where students feel comfortable trying out new ideas. You also showed compassion for their impatience, rather than just saying ‘deal with it’.

  2. What a great opportunity for student ingenuity. I think this points out one of the many benefits to students creating their own methods to solving a problem over following a set procedure. Students need these opportunities to be inventive and showcase those science and engineering practices. If you did this lab again the future, would you give your students a hint that they could come up with their own way to make holding the cup easier for themselves?

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