Cookie Monster teaches science with YouTube

Dave from Sesame Street sez, "We've taken one of the interactive science games that we developed for our website and made it accessible and playable on YouTube. This is Sesame Street's first foray into YouTube gaming and we're pumped to lead with a game that teaches the scientific process to young kids."

Join renowned scientist Cookie Monster as he hosts an interactive science experiment for the YouTube community!

Ask a question, make a hypothesis, and observe what happens as you and Cookie Monster discover what floats in water and what sinks in water! Do underpants float? Find out with Sesame Street!

Sesame Street Science: Sink or Float?

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  1. Possibly I’m just a curmudgeon, but: Why not just do this in real life? Why didn’t they take the opportunity to talk about density? (at least in the sense of testing the hypothesis: big light things float and small light things sink)

    1. The target audience for Sesame Street is in the order of 2-4 years old. I don’t think talking about density really is age-appropriate.

      As for not doing it in real life, my 3-year old wants to play this game far more often then I’d care to fill up the tub, and I’m sure our cat is pleased as she would quickly become a subject of the experiment should our attention falter for a fraction of a second. Not to say we won’t do the experiment in real life as well, just nice to have this as a supplement.

  2. I think they miss the most important part of the process here – using conclusions from past experiments to make predictions about future ones. And there’s a perfect example right there that they didn’t explore.

    I thought that the lime would float, because I know that apples float. But let’s leave that argument out for the moment, and say I guessed. The lime sank. Next, they brought out a lemon. “Okay,” I said, “lemons are a lot like limes. I think it will sink too.” The lemon floated.

    The videos did not explore why I made my choices. They did not explore that most important part of scientific theories – that they should be able to make predictions about future experiments.

  3. Perfect timing Cory! Dean sent me this link at 12:55 EST. My sixth grade science classes are working in the lab on metric measurement skills and density. I screened “Cookie Science” for one of my classes at 1:10, just as they were getting ready for a third day of wet labs. They loved it, especially the explanation of the process, which is what they have been doing in my lab all year. I enjoyed watching them nod their heads as the little girl in the video reiterated the steps they had followed in their experiment.

    Here’s the regimen I put the kids through. I think @knappa will see that an injection of a little humor is worthwhile.

    First we measure and measure and measure. Most of them now can measure to the nearest 0.1 cm and calculate the volume of a rectangular solid with enough accuracy to match a measurement of volume taken by displacement of water to within 0.5mL.

    Last week, the 11-year olds confirmed the density of water @1.0g/mL or cc, and showed that 1 cc of water at room temperature has a volume of 1mL and 1cc, thus confirming this foundation of the metric system.

    I also have a density gradient of 4 “unknown” liquids set up in the classroom. One of the liquids is water. The kids will have the task to figure out the identity of the other 3 liquids, and tell me which ones “float” or “sink” on water.

    All this lab work is pretty heavy stuff for sixth graders. Of 65 students, about 10% at the most will grasp the concept of density as a physical property of matter, rather than “float in water” or “sink in water.” So, @knappa, the comparison of the object to water is age appropriate for the Sesame audience and a humorous reinforcement in middle school. You get a lot of bang for the buck with a little bit of humor in science class!

    1. Your and Malica’s points about age appropriateness and use as a supplement are taken.* I suppose that my main worry is that these online learning tools feed into this “science/math as a spectator sport” mentality that I sometimes see. It’s entirely possible that my worry is illegitimate, especially since these are at least interactive, unlike the VHS tapes used when I was that age.
      * In retrospect, I remember explaining density to some approx 6th grade Girl Scouts and getting some blank stares. They did like floating things in salt water though.

  4. i did this with my four year old at christmas (after watching C is for Cookie for the umpteenth time) and she loved it.

    two scientists for parents so yeah we kinda wanted a little more explanation too -but I don’t think she did. she’s a very smart kid but I’m not sure she would have really understood density.

    that said, Malica, she can do and understand lots of things people wouldn’t think age appropriate.

    but I thought the explanation of the (utterly unrealistic and idealized) scientific process was great, i though the game was very smartly put together, and the girl with Cookie is awesome.

  5. This is cool and all, but… what is the Sesame Street demographic doing on the Internet in the first place? It’s bad enough that they’re watching TV all day. Make ’em play outside!

    …Damn, did I suddenly turn 65? Sorry about that.

  6. WIN WIN WIN! Anything that teaches the scientific method to kids is awesome, and Sesame Street doing it? With Cookie Monster? The awesome scale is off the charts. I also loved the items they used- I was wrong on 3/5 of them, so even adults can learn or refresh their scientific skills. Fun-a-riffic!

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