Monday, April 15, 2013

Water Level Experiment Inspired by Literature!

Learn with Literature!

Water level experiment inspired by literature!

Batman loves to read stories from Panchatantra
Panchatantra is essentially a collection of animal fables, that are generally accompanied with a moral and philosophical teaching, compiled together by a very learned scholar, Pandit Vishnu Sharma, more than 2,000 years ago! They have passed the test of time with flying rainbow colors :)

It is one of the most frequently translated literary products of India and these stories are supposedly amongst the most widely known in the world. Originally written to impart wisdom to some "dud" sons of a king around 200 B.C., they are still traveling around the world, enlightening and enchanting readers, young and old! 
At least, that is certainly the case in my house! Batman and Spiderman both love the stories. Some of them are a bit violent for younger kids, and I generally skip over them. Some I modify a bit. But the stories still have the power to enthrall my boys.
Here is the story in short which inspired our water level experiment, and a whole water unit (in a separate post).

Thirsty Crow

Once upon a time, a very thirsty crow was flying in search of water. After a long search, all he could find was a tiny bit of water inside an earthen pot/pitcher. But the water level was too low. The poor crow could not reach the water with his beak. Nor could he tip over the pitcher, which was too heavy. The crow, about to give up in despair, noticed some pebbles lying around the pitcher. He decided to drop the pebbles, one at a time, until the water level had risen high enough for him to reach with his beak! Hurray for the crow. The story teaches us several things - where there is a will, there is way; necessity  is the mother of invention.

Water Level Experiment

Now that we have all the context, onwards with the experiment. Batman had read this story a while back, so it was not fresh in his mind, on purpose. To set up the experiment, we had a cup of water (a pitcher or a vase with a narrow opening is better to imitate the story!) with color of choice, and some pebbles, big and small and a kitchen scale.
At first, I presented Batman with just the cup of water, and asked him if he could think of  a way we could make the water level rise for the thirsty crow. He immediately said pebbles. 
Out came the pebbles, along with kitchen scale. And my little scientist got his "notebook" for recording stuff, and a marker to mark the water level, on his own, I might add!

 Then we got to work. Batman marked the existing level of water with a marker as "1". We measured the big pebbles first. Batman noted the number, and I explained that the weight is between 4 and 5 ounces, or unit. Then we dropped the pebbles in the cup, the water rose, and we marked it with "2". 

Then we measured the the small pebbles, we kept on putting pebbles on the scale till we got to 4.5 oz again.
Hypothesis - if we take the big pebbles out, where will the water level be? If we put the small pebbles we measured, where will the water level be? 
Batman was spot on. He told me that the water level came up to 2 in both cases because the big pebbles and the small pebbles both showed the same "number" on the scale. The crow must have chosen a few big pebbles rather than a lot of small pebbles, because he was a smart crow!!

Level 2 - with either the small or the big pebbles, and Level 3 - with both big and small pebbles. We guesstimated that the distance between 1 and 2, and 2 and 3 is about the same!! 


We digressed into other fun stuff with water after that, but that will keep for another post at another time!!

If you are interested, you can find some stories from Panchatantra online for free here. These translations are a bit pedestrian, lacking the richness of the prose and the poetry.

I also found some on Amazon.  I did not see the book that I own on Amazon, but the ones there looked good.

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