This week my students have been working on the Mealworm Inquiry Lab. In this lab, students apply everything they have learned about experimental design by creating their own experiment using mealworms (Superworms actually). Superworms can be purchased at the local pet store and are great for this activity. The Superworms do not jump on the kids and they move slow enough to easily control. They also have an interesting life cycle that the students learn about in their research. In this inquiry lab, students make observations, conduct research, develop a question, identify variables, create a hypothesis, create procedures, create choice chambers for their experiment, collect data, analyse data and draw a conclusion based on their results.
This week my students practiced writing a hypothesis. To practice writing a hypothesis have your students complete this engaging activity that gives the them a chance to practice their hypothesis writing. This activity requires a 2 liter bottle, water and tape (masking or painting). Prepare the bottle by drilling three holes vertically in a straight line about and inch apart. The holes should be slightly smaller than a pencil eraser. I have used scissors and twisted them until the a hole was made but a drill is much easier if you have it. Once the holes are drilled place some tape over the holes and fill it with water.
Your bottle is now ready for the class. Prior to getting started with the hypothesis practice have the students create a chart that looks like the one below making sure they save room to write inside the chart. If students are using an interactive notebook have them place this chart on the right side.
On the left side of the their interactive notebook students will record their initial observations and their sketch. When students are done with the entire activity it will look like this.
To begin this activity, walk around the room to each student so they can closely observe the bottle and record their observations. This is where you can emphasize details in their observation records. After walking around ask the class for a volunteer who isn’t afraid of water. Bring the student to the front of the class and sit them in a desk and give them a paper towel to put on top of their head (optional). The only purpose for involving a student is for dramatic effect and student engagement and it works very well! They shouldn’t actually get more than a drop or two of water on them if all goes well. While holding the bottle over the volunteers head ask the class to record their hypothesis about what will happen when the tape is pulled past the first hole. Ask students to write the hypothesis as an “if-then” statement. Have the students share their hypothesis with the class. Next, pull the tape past the first hole while holding it over your volunteers head. If everything is done correctly, no water will come out of the first hole. Students record their observations and record why they think it happened the way it did or any questions they may have. Move on and repeat this for the next two holes. Have the students make a hypothesis before each a new hole is exposed. Water will come out of the next two holes so I strategically have a trash can to catch the water and avoid getting it on the volunteer. Though this activity is simple, students love it.
I overheard one of my IEP students talking to the Coteacher and he said: “This is actually pretty fun!”
Many students struggle when learning about the independent and dependent variable. When teaching them the independent and dependent variable I try to simplify the two terms to be as simple as possible but still allow students to apply the definitions to an actual scientific experiment or scenario.
The independent variable can be defined as the variable that is manipulated. It is what the experimenter is adding to the experimental group. To simplify the independent variable for students I use the single word (changed) for the definition.
The dependent variable can be defined as the responding variable. The depend variable can be simplified for students by mentioning that the dependent variable is the variable that is measured or counted.
To help my students get plenty of practice with this concept I have created a simple independent and dependent variable worksheet that gives them some practice applying the independent and dependent variable to actual experiments.
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As the first days of school near, I wanted to share one of my favorite activities that ease students into the scientific method and experimental design. This activity is a guided inquiry paper folding activity that will help student get the cobwebs out of their brains.
There is a common myth that you cannot fold a paper more than seven times. This activity allow students to conduct an investigation to explore this claim.
In the activity students will explore the following vocabulary:
Throughout this activity the students explore the scientific method and design an experiment that answers the question: How many time can you fold a piece of 8 1/2in x 11in computer paper? This experimental design activity is a quick hitter that allows you to assess your students abilities and begin to establish lab procedures.