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Exploring Windshield Wipers

About this video

Children in a mixed-age early childhood classroom at a rural community college were engaged in a study of cars. The children were able to visit the nearby automotive lab at the college to see firsthand how windshield wipers work. Some of the children interact verbally with the automotive instructor to learn about the wipers. In this video clip, we can also see how Nicole (5.8 years old) watches, listens, and records her observations by sketching the windshield wipers. The interaction between the children and the automotive instructor, Dan O’Connor, and his students reveals the children’s interest in scientific knowledge. It also reveals the generosity with which adults typically respond when young children take an interest in their work.



Automotive Student: Hi guys. How’s it goin’?

Dan: (Nodding toward his student.) He’s fixin’ his windshield wipers.

Automotive Student: We’re tryin’ to fix my windshield wipers. We’ve got to find out what’s wrong, first.

Dan: This is his car.

Automotive Student: Take it all apart…try to find out why they’re not working right.

Dan: (Picks up a windshield wiper and holds it where children can look at it closely.) See, here’s where the washer fluid comes in, in that little hose right there. It comes up out of that tank you were pointing out over there. And the fluid comes up here (pointing), travels up here (pointing), and it’s got a squirter right there, and that’s what squirts on the window, like that (motioning toward the windshield). Isn’t that neat?

Jace (4.8): And then it wipes it.

Dan: Ya’, and then the wiper blade…you want to feel that? (Holds wiper where children can touch the wiper blade.) That’s rubber.

Automotive Student: That’s what wipes the water off.

Dan: Ya’, that’s what cleans the window off so you can see.

Jace (4.8): You know what, on my Dad’s car, you know what he let’s me do? He let’s me go….

Transition to view of the motor that runs car wipers.

Dan: See that. Look at that. Isn’t that neat? You need all that just to make your wipers work. You see all that linkage in there move? Isn’t that neat?

Sallee: (To Alex.) You know what, maybe I could hold you up. Can I hold you up so you can see better? I’ll give you each a turn.

Dan: (To Nic.) Can you see that? (Picks Nic up.) Can you see?

Automotive Student: See all those rods, and there’s a motor down there that turns? And then it just shoves the rods back and forth, so it makes your wipers go up and down.

Dan: Very good. (Child hands Dan a picture of a car.) Oh, that’s nice!

Transition to view of Nicole sketching wipers

Automotive Student: You guys gonna’ work on cars when you get old?

Transition to view of Nicole’s sketch of wipers.

Benchmarks and How They Were Met

BenchmarksHow They Were Met
11.A.ECd: Collect, describe, compare, and record information from observations and investigations.
Children watched how wipers, wiper motors, linkage, and rods worked. They felt the rubber wiper blade. Nicole recorded her observations on her clipboard.
Physical Development and Health
19.A.ECe: Use writing and drawing tools with some control.
Nicole was able to draw on paper using a pencil.
Social/emotional Development
30.C.ECa: Exhibit eagerness and curiosity as a learner.
When invited, the children stood near Dan and touched the wiper blade. They stood close to the car to try to see the wiper blade motor.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Child Care Center
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2017