This month’s blog is brought to you by Clare Docking,
one of our advisory teachers who works with industry and schools in the East of
Children love to play with mixtures combining solids and
liquids to make something different. In
this activity we take this one step further and use filters to reverse this
process and separate out the solid again. This investigation is easy to set up
as it involves using everyday household materials for the filtering and uses a
simple mixture of flour and water for the solution. Children will enjoy predicting which filter
they think will do the best job of separating out the solid from the liquid and
then testing to see if they are right. This activity will prompt them to
consider the properties of materials and why some make good filters, and some
Three, two, one –
- Children love a challenge, so start the investigation by telling the children that a local bio tech company needs their
help to find out which material makes the best filter. You could explain that medicines are grown in solutions and
then the ‘solids’ grown need to be separated again afterwards. Brainstorm ideas
on everyday filters e.g. colanders, tea strainers,plug hole filters.
- Give the children a choice of
filters e.g. kitchen roll, tissue, cotton fabric, J cloth, and a commercially
produced filter paper such those for coffee machines. Ask them how they are
going to ensure that they test all the different filters so that all conditions
are kept the same except for changing the filter used?
- Encourage the children to draw
on their own experiences when thinking about the task. Do they think any of the
filters might go soggy? Are some of the materials more tightly woven and will
this be good or bad for filtering? How much do they pour at once and how do
they ensure no spillage? Does it matter if the solution is lumpy? This is a
good opportunity to bring in previous learning about how liquids and solids
behave and to examine the difference between a ‘solution’ and a ‘suspension’.
- Once the children have decided
on what they need to keep the same for a fair test, they need to consider how
they can measure results. How will they measure the success of the filter? This activity lends itself to a variety of measuring
and recording methods. They could, for example, measure
the clarity of the liquid produced, or the amount of flour in the filter. Ask
the children to time how long the filtering process takes with each material –
how might the time taken by each filter be relevant to the bio-tech company
when they decide which filter to use?
- The children will love to report back findings to
the class and ultimately the bio-tech company in a variety of ways e.g. videos,
reports, letters or photos with captions.
Full details of activity can be found in our free resource and incudes teachers’ notes,
sheets and national curriculum links.
Here are some tips
to make your investigation a success:
- This activity is
perfectly suited for COVID secure working as it can easily be carried
individually, in pairs or small bubbles as equipment is inexpensive and easily
- Encourage the
children to spot mistakes in their own processes and hold mini plenaries to
discuss these. For example, is any liquid running down the side of the filter when they
- Allow plenty of
time for the investigation as some of the filters work more slowly than others.
While the children are watching and waiting for the filtering to take place,
encourage them to record ideas about their testing process on post-its or
devise a table to record results.
- If you don’t have
any funnels or containers, simply cut the top off a plastic bottle (e.g. bottled
water) and in an instant you have the container and funnel (NB. Be aware of
sharp edges – cover with tape if necessary).
If you would like to share this activity with children's families, why don't you put a link to this related IndusTRY at home activity on your school website?
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