A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon an interesting blog of Ryan Bledsoe: music adventures in elementary general music. Ryan is a doctoral student in music education, and music teacher for 2nd through 6th graders in Chandler, Arizona.
Ryan had the impression that most of the 6th graders had a rather negative view towards research. However, when having a discussion about real-life research she noticed that the 6th graders were much more into research than they actually realized. She says:
"More than half of them admitted to researching cheat codes and walkthroughs for video games when they are struggling or feeling impatient. They even compare sources and have their favorite sources that they go to first. There you have it, real-life kid research."
To let the 6th graders learn more about research, she decided to pose them with the task of being a researcher and gave them a real-life object to research: AudioCubes.
After giving some basic information about the AudioCubes, each of the students had to write down 10 questions they had about them. When discussing their questions, the questions "Is the AudioCube an instrument? What makes something an instrument?", kept coming back.
Over the course of three other classes, the students were invited to play with 2 AudioCubes one at a time. Ryan didn't give them any information about how they worked. Each time they had another question they wrote them down.
"I found it interesting that with each student who came up, something new was often discovered. At first students moved the cubes around on the table until they discovered that the sound changed more drastically when the black sensors were covered...I encouraged the students to talk openly about what was happening or what they thought was happening. During the process the students spent much time speculating about how their actions were affecting the sounds. ", Ryan says.
Check out the video that was made wile the 6th graders took on the role of researchers with AudioCubes
Ryan's approach to let the students learn more about research using AudioCubes is a very interesting approach. It let them pose questions and find answers by doing tests, and reformulate the questions based on their results. Not only is it a perfect approach to critical learning, but it is also a perfect case for real-life research in school.
More information about the experiment can be found on Ryan's blog: http://rbmusiced.wordpress.com/