Rainbow Scientific Method

Start 2019-05-31 › Pub 2019-06-06 › Edit 2019-06-06

What it is

Rainbow Scientific Method

A description of the scientific method for grade school kids (elementary school / primary school / the thing that 6 year olds start to do) which uses a mnemonic similar to the colors of the rainbow. There are also some text explanations. Hopefuilly this acts as scaffolding they can use to remember the steps and why they're important. Ideally, sung to the same song as "red orange yellow green blue purple, those are the colors of the rainbow."

Does it make sense to kids?

I hope, but I have no idea. I would love to update and make this something better with your feedback.

I am not someone who regularly develops, tests, and refines educational curriculum. This is an exercise after seeing something that left me more confused than educated. Is there something that might make this better?

How I got here

The scientific method isn't really a specific thing, it's a nebulous process that involves weighing what you think you know against external reality. For kids though, it usually is a very concrete thing with concrete steps. You need to learn with some handrails before the weight of empirical sciences comes to crush you down. I had recently been looking into this for developing the process around another project of mine related to analyzing the harms of technology.

I've also recently completed a Child Psych class at CCSF and learned about Vygotsky and the Zone of Proximal Development aka ZPD. I've also recently watched a talk by Jonathan Blow entitled "Preventing the Collapse of Civilization" at DevGAMM, which primarily focuses on how too much abstraction / mis-abstraction and loss of connection with the fundamentals of an area of study can lead to the loss of knowledge about how things work.

With this, I started reading a Hacker News post called Information Security Mental Models which had a neat image in it in reference to the Scientific Method as a mental model:

Scientific Method, kinda but not really?

This, uh, irked me, let's say. Why? Let's have a look.

This blogger didn't make this image, clearly. Unfortunately the only reference I found to it was this PDF so I can't figure out who to ask questions to.

So then this was it. I was going to make something "better" that at least didn't bother me so much, and met more needs based on what I learned from my child psych class.

The usual simplified version is 4 steps but I think the idea of connecting a rainbow with six way simpler steps means you could use the rainbow song, and get some scaffolding and memory benefits.

I then proceeded to sing a number of variations of this to myself, all of which were embarrassing. But, I landed on "Ask read guess test check and write it, this is the way that we do science" BUT then I needed to make the graphic. Which gave me time to think more, and to change the words, and shift the steps more. An hour later and the smallest amount of playing in Inkscape on my linux machine, and there we have it. Ugly, but better.

Copywriting is not my strong suit, but we have what we have.