The Great What-If…

Do you feel intimidated by the idea of teaching science to your student? Is your student turned off by science?

If so, a little re-framing is in order.

Science is hands down the most exciting and fun part of learning, plus it encompasses all the other disciplines (reading, writing, math, statistics, history, life skills, geography, and on and on). Science is the study of The Great What-If.

Every person has What-If moments, and the lucky ones get to try them out, a.k.a., experiment with their ideas.

  • Science What-Ifs stimulate the imagination and lead to creative writing (science fiction) and exploratory reading.
  • Science What-Ifs involve the 5 senses.

What-If I change the spices in this recipe?
What-If I put my cell phone into different containers while it’s playing music?
What-If I shine a light on my closed eyes and then open them in the dark?
What-If someone lights a match in another room instead of the same room I’m in?
What-If I put my hands in cold water, and then put them in room temperature water?

  • What-Ifs get things built, and are the precursor to all inventions.

Please share a school project or idea that excited your child (with age included).

  • Here are some popular activities from when I was a science teacher:
    The Egg Drop: What-If I wrapped up an egg before dropping it? Design packaging around a hard boiled egg to protect it from falls. Pick a height to drop the egg and see if the packaging worked. Record the height into a data chart. Increase the height of the drop and test again. When the packaging fails, and the egg cracks, enjoy an egg salad sandwich!
  • Build a Solar Cooker: What-If I used the heat of the sun to cook? You can find directions on the internet at sites such as Test it with a glass of water and a meat thermometer. Enter “time” and “temperature” into a data chart.
    This is your baseline data. Then you can experiment with how the time of day, or cloud cover, or wind, etc., affect the Solar Cooker’s efficiency. Plus, you get to reuse some of those cardboard boxes.
  • Build a rollercoaster for a marble: What-If the ramp was higher, or smoother, or wider, or harder? Calculate the speed (distance divided by time) to see how fast you can get the marble to travel. That will unleash the imagination!

If you are looking for more ideas, head to the Emergent Design Studio at or email me ( with the age of your child and the type of science (physical, life, biology, etc.), and I’ll send you some ideas.

What projects have stimulated your child?

Scroll to Top