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WHAT CAN WE LEARN BY LOOKING?

What can we tell about objects by just looking at them? Let's make a list of the different things we can see when we look at an object. (1) Size; (2) Color; (3) Shape;
(4) Pattern/texture.

Can we tell how loud it is? Or how strong? Or how much it weighs? Or if it is hard or soft? Or how it tastes?

Let's pretend that we have never seen any of these things before, and find out what we can learn about them by just looking at them.

First, we have some sticks. They are in a pile on the table. Let's sort through them, and see if any of them have partners. [If two or more are the same, or almost the same, they can be partners.] There may be some that are partners because they came from the same tree. Some may be alike because they are manufactured, such as popsicle sticks. Some may be partners because they are the same size or the same shape. Let's put them into groups, according to the four different kinds of things we can see, and make four lists.

Next, we will examine some leaves. We'll see if we can find any partners among them, put them into groups, and make four lists.

Leaves are especially interesting, because there can be some with colors the same, shape and size the same, but if we look closely, we can see the little veins are in different patterns. Why do you suppose that is?

Here is a piece of heavy cardboard with buttons glued to the numbered squares. We can look at them and decide if there are partners, and list them according to the numbers of their squares. Be sure to note the exact partners and the almost partners.

Almost everybody has a rock collection at some time in their lives. It is fun to bring home a rock when we go on an outing. We can look at the rock collection, and remember all the places we have been. Different areas have different kinds of rocks. (It is important to remember that they are called "rocks;" not "stones," unless they are gems, such as rubies or diamonds.)

When we sort through this rock pile, at first they all seem pretty much alike, because they are nearly the same size. Look closely; they may be different colors. There is only one set of real partners. Let's see if we can find them.

Now, let's sort through the polished rocks, and see if we can find the set of partners.

Which of the rock piles was more fun? The natural rocks, or the polished rocks? Let's pretend to be jewelers, and each of us can make a necklace. We each have a length of beading thread (or dental floss) on a needle. We have a huge pile of plastic beads. The beads are all the same color, and are also all the same size. Does that mean they are all partners? Look closer.

Each student can take turns being "first." The student who is "first" can select a bead and put it on the thread. The other students look at it, and choose a bead that is the same, and put it onto the thread. If the beads are all the same color and size, what is different among them? Make sure that you choose a bead that is the partner of the bead that the student who is "first" chose.

There is another pile of beads. As we sort through them, we can see that they are the same color and the same shape. What difference is there? Let's find the partners and put them together.

For more fun, let's look through a magnifying glass (or microscope) at some of the partners we have chosen. Are they still partners?

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