Thursday, July 19, 2012

Which Diaper Holds the Most Liquid?

I have been working hard on coming up with simple consumer product tests that my students can do in the classroom. It's harder than you'd think! I thought up a lot of them that can be done over a period of time, but I'm specifically trying to develop experiments that they can do in 1 or 2 days max so that they can practice following through with the Scientific Process and get some practice recording their data in their science journals. Below is a list of tests that you could do in the classroom {with just collecting a few household items - or asking parents to send with their child}.

I'm demonstrating my own test that I conducted using different chewing gum brands. I wanted to see which gum holds its flavor the longest. I will record all of my info in my journal and show it to the students, just as I expect them to do throughout the year as we conduct awesome experiments. Here's an example of how students could record their data {in "Scientific Method" format.}

From the top, here is the critical information that students need to make sure they are recording as they conduct experiments:
Title of the experiment
Question that is being tested
A brief description of the experiment
Data, in chart form if applicable

Communication is not pictured, but implied. Students will always present their results in class.{informally or formally, depending on the format of the experiment and the required assignment}

As the year moves forward,  I will explain to students that to make this a more fair experiment, I would want to do this same experiment at least 3 times and collect the average flavor times. However, this activity is primarily focused on getting students used to the idea of recording their experiment data in an organized way and following through with the scientific process. The following week, I will introduce the concepts of controlled experiments and variables. Students will understand the differences between the types of variables (controlled, independent and dependent} and will know to include this information in their recordings of later controlled experiments. {This information would be placed under Data}

Here is the list of consumer science experiments that you could use in your classroom during the first few weeks of school to get them used to the idea of asking more investigative questions and get them practicing with recording their experiment data.

1. Does bubble gum really produce bigger bubbles than chewing gum?
2. Which carpet cleaner cleans Kool-Aid stains the best?
3. Which stain stick cleans Kool-Aid stains best?
4. Which popcorn brand produces the most popped kernels in X amount of time?
5. Do different brands of bubble gum produce the same size bubbles?
6. Which chocolate tastes better - generic or Hershey's? (This would be a survey experiment)
7. Which permanent markers are the best?
8. Which hairspray holds stronger against wind?
9. Which brand of glue has the strongest bond?
10. Which diaper holds the most liquid?

There are so many more experiments like these that could be conducted over a period of time - such as which freezer bags prevent freezer burn the best? Or which tooth whiteners are the best? And which batteries last the longest? But in order for my students to just practice with coming up with good, testable experiments that are quick - the above work just as well!

If you teach solely science like I do, you could also invite students to continue this trend of thinking and create their own long-term experiment on their own time. Then set aside certain days of the month to allow students to present their findings. I call this "Mad Scientists" in my classroom and hope that my students will take advantage of it throughout the year!

1 comment:

  1. I love these ideas! My favorite science lessons are the ones where they are truly engaged and WANT to find out the results...thanks for sharing!

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    Craft of Teaching