Day 162: Student Lab Investigation Proposals
Conceptual Physics: Our bike light generator unit is done, and we have 7 days of school left. Definitely not enough time to begin the last unit from “Physics That Works.” So students will be designing their own lab investigation instead. This will be similar to the College-Prep projects, but with some more structure and scaffolding.
I recently read an article about Inquiry Boards in Science and Children (NSTA’s magazine for elementary teachers). It provided a perfect structure for helping students focus on variables in science experiments. I took the basic structure of the Inquiry Board process and rolled it into a proposal sheet: Lab Experiment Project Proposals. We walked through the example about plant growth, highlighting the difference between variables we could change and variables that we can change AND measure. For example, you can change the amount of light the plants would get, but we couldn’t quantify the amount of light (at least with tools at hand).
The student whose proposal is pictured will literally be watching paint dry! You can see how it progressively gets narrower in our focus. First from many variables and outcomes, then to the measurable variables and outcomes, then to picking just one measurable variable and one measurable outcome, and therefore the controls must be all the variables we didn’t pick.