Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Teaching experimental design

My word! This is a hard concept for kids to master. My students come to me with very little background in designing an investigation from start to finish, so almost all of this novel information for them.

We work on designing our own investigations all year long, but I introduce the concept very early on with a couple of labs designed just for teaching these skills.

We begin a lab called "Scientific Cents."  It's a version of the classic Drops on a Penny lab.

I take at least an entire week and walk the kids through each part, step-by-step.  I teach variables, hypothesis, graphing, data analysis, drawing conclusions as we do this.  I don't take a grade on the lab.  Kids do the lab and make notes on each part a we go along.  This lab serves as a model for the next (and subsequent) lab(s) during the first semester.

I follow up the next week with "Bubble Tubes."  Bubble Tubes can be purchased from Education Innovations or ENASCO.  The kids love these.

I provide much less guidance with this lab - and I count it as both a lab grade and a test grade.  Students are encouraged to use the Scientific Cents lab as a model or example of what to do.

The results are remarkable.  Of course, final lab isn't what I would want to see in May, but for a first start, it's pretty good.

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