Using Stories to Teach Science
Imagine a science class, where the class teacher walks in and asks, ‘Children would you like to listen to a story today?’ How do you think the children will react? Do you visualize smiling and excited faces?
Here is a story that children will love and in the bargain also learn some science facts.
Story: Fakruddin’s Fridge Story Synopsis: Little Fakruddin worries about everything and asks endless questions! One day, when his fridge stops working, Fakru is frantic. How will he survive a hot summer without cold water? Ammi is fed up. ‘Think of a way out yourself,’ she says. Will Fakru find a simple solution or will he remain Frantic Fakru? This is a light-hearted story.
The story begins by introducing the character, Fakruddin, lovingly called Fakru. His first and only reaction to a problem is worrying; he never thinks about finding a solution to the problem. Then one day, the fridge in Fakru’s house shuts down. His parents don’t have money to buy a new fridge right away. So his mother explains that she will only cook enough food that they can consume and if they have some leftover they will store it in the neighbour’s fridge. But Fakru continues to be frantic, because it is summertime in Bhopal, and he worries and complains that he won’t be able to survive without access to cold water (after all he can’t go to the neighbour’s 10-15 times asking for cold water). Fed up with his complaints, his mother asks him to find a solution to his problem by himself.
So, our man Fakru heads out. On the road he sees a lemon soda seller. He watches as the man removes ice from a box and puts it in a glass. He wonders how the ice is stored. The vendor explains that the box is made of thermocol – it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. At this point, pause and show an empty thermocol box to the class. Let children explore the box.
Show another thermocol box that contains ice (the ice should have been placed a few hours before the class, to show that it melts, eventually). Ask children to describe what they see. Ask them if the box can be a replacement for a freezer. Ask them to touch the outside surface of the box – does it feel cold? Show glass and stainless steel cups, filled with hot and cold liquid. Ask students to touch the outside surface and compare their observations. Explain the concept of good and bad conductors of heat. Ask students to decide which items are good and bad conductors of heat.
Resume the story
The vendor explains that the ice cannot be stored permanently in the box and that he refills ice each day. Fakruddin realises that he will need to buy ice everyday, and therefore the box is not the solution to his problem. Then, he goes and sits on a bench in the park. He watches little sparrows rolling in the mud. He calls them foolish and wonders aloud what they are gaining by dirtying themselves in the mud. An old lady sitting on the bench explains that the mud helps the sparrows cool their bodies. Fakruddin is surprised that mud can cool things. But he wonders how he can put mud in water and then drink it. The old lady laughs.
’Don’t put mud in water…but put water in mud’, saying this she walks away.
Ask children what the old lady meant. Is it possible to put water in mud? Should we take the literal meaning of the riddle or was it a clue to something? Let the children brainstorm.
Resume the story
Fakru walks towards his house, dejected. On the way he sees a sign at a stall. It says ‘Drinking Water’. He stops and pours himself a glass of water stored in a mud pot. ‘Ahh…nice and cool,’ he says to himself. Ask the children if they figured out the riddle? Show the children a mud pot; explain the properties of mud/clay. Ask them if the pot is a good conductor or bad conductor of heat. Ask them if Fakru can use the pot to solve his problem of cold water.
Resume and conclude the story
Fakru realises that he can store water in the pot. In that way he can have access to cool water throughout the hot summer days. He buys the pot and runs home to tell his mother. She applauds him for solving his problem.
- Which material containers are best for cooking food?
- Why are houses in hot places made of mud? (Crosscurricular)
- Why does Bhopal have very hot weather during summer?
Kanchan Shine has over 10 years experience in the education domain. Her firm, Episteme Learning Solutions Pvt Ltd. creates training content for schools, ranging from curriculum design, teacher lesson plans and activity guides. Her team also writes content for textbook publishers. She conducts teacher-training workshops and provides consultancy for curriculum development and implementing experiential learning in classrooms. She is passionate about teaching and believes that children learn best through hands-on-activities and play. She is currently pursing MA in Education.