Tag Archives: experimental design

Mealworm Inquiry Lab

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

Hypothesis Practice- Get your Students to Practice Hypothesis Writing

Hypothesis Practice

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.

3 hole bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Student digital example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!”

Try it out. Comment below on how it goes!

 

Introduction to Experimental Design

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:

  • prediction
  • independent variable
  • dependent variable
  • bias
  • property
  • standard notation
  • scientific notation
  • hypothesis

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.

Photosynthesis and Respiration

This week we returned from break to a 3 day week. I started the week by reviewing cells using a webquest. I then moved on to photosynthesis and respiration. I began class showing the student a gift I received for my birthday. The gift was an Eco-sphere. The concept of the Ecosphere was  developed in NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory. It is a completely closed off system that sustains  3  shrimp, algae and bacteria. It really got my students asking questions.

ecosphere