everyday SCIENCE How DragonflyTV Fosters Learning

DragonflyTV (DFTV) is committed to showing “real kids doing real science,” and the show lives up to its promise. To help make the science come alive even more, during seasons V and VI (2005-2007), DragonflyTV producers partnered with science centers to show viewers at home how such centers can be a place to go to help them explore science. Each episode begins with a science question raised by the student investigators on the show. The viewers watch the investigators use the science centers’ resources to answer it, taking advantage of a link between two informal science platforms. The hope is that the viewers will realize that they, too, can turn to a local science center to answer their questions about science.

A quick look at any of the episodes shows kids having fun and engaging in a full cycle of inquiry. For example, take the episode titled “Balloons.” Two boys go to Explora!, a science center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they pose the following question: How large does a hot air balloon need to be in order to stay in the air? Carefully and methodically, the boys go about trying to answer this question. First, they measure the air temperature so that they can be sure that this variable remains the same through all three trials. Then the young scientists build three model balloons of different sizes and test how much weight they can lift by putting pennies in their baskets and launching them. Next, they figure out the volume and weight of each balloon.

At the end of each trial, the boys write down how they performed the calculations. The episode ends with a trip to the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival, where the investigators did some more science (predicted and measured the capacity of an actual balloon) and then had the ultimate experience—a ride in a real hot air balloon.

The science investigators consider how to construct a model balloon.

The science investigators consider how to construct a model balloon.

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