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.
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Here are some example of their set up:
Note: About 40% of the students in this class have an IEP. The experiments were not perfectly controlled but this lab offers so much opportunity to address their weakness through questioning.
I have the students create a lab report when they are finished using my lab report rubric and guide
Independent and Dependent Variable Worksheet
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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IV and DV Scenarios-PDF
Experimental Design Activity
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:
- independent variable
- dependent variable
- standard notation
- scientific notation
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.
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At the end of the activity student will watch a four minute video from the Mythbusters that will likely change their conclusions.
Paper folding experimental design activity worksheet.
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Click here for the video that goes with this lesson.