We're playing with magnets this week in class. (We're actually finishing playing with magnets now.) It's been great and this is by far one of my favorite units to teach because everything is so hands on. We've done lab activities every day. Magnets are accessible. They're approachable by students. They're easy to put your hands on and learn from.
Play in science is crucial to the learning process. Mess with something, see what it does. Mess around again.
Today, some students were really playing with ideas and others were just playing.
There must be a balance. Finding that balance in allowing for play alongside play is hard to strike because they can switch so quickly. Intentional situations (good design) help maintain the balance. Finding ways to make students think they're just playing around is a good way to have them really play with ideas.
It's frustrating when that opportunity is missed.