Denise Marie Sobieski
Type of Entry
Type of Activity
Scientific Experiment Project
Can be modified for any group including the following:
Other Special Needs
What question does this activity help students to answer
Students engage in a group scientific experiment to answer a question of their choice pertaining to the current topic of study. Students will go through all steps of scientific inquiry that scientists go through when they do research. Students will use the scientific method to answer their question engaging in cooperative activities to complete their goals.
Notes for teacher
This project can be done with just about any age group and topic. Students need to do more real science in todayıs science classes, and this activity affords them with the opportunity to do so. For instance, I did a unit on "Earth the Water Planet" and my students all chose scientific questions pertaining to water.
A good solid understanding of the scientific method is necessary before students can proceed with this topic. Students need to know how to do the scientific method. Constant monitoring by you, the teacher, is required so that students produce and
perform a good experiment with easily recognizable controls and variables.
Required of students
Students need to know how to use the scientific method. They will also need to successfully work together in a cooperative group to complete this task, and engage in other skills, such as writing, producing graphs, and making artwork for their display.
Preparation time needed
The length of time spent on the project will vary depending upon the ability level of the students and the complexity of the experiments chosen. Likewise, the amount of time spent preparing for the activity will vary. Most of the teacher preparation time consists of organizing the groups and acquiring materials for the experiments. Some time organizing the culminating class science fair -obtaining judges, printing judging sheets, etc. - may be required.
Class time needed
Again, the length of time spent on this project will vary depending upon the ability level of the students and the complexity of the experiments chosen. I have typically spent several weeks on this project, giving more class time at the beginning for research and set up of the experiments.
Abstract of Activity
Students will have their own "science fair" within the class. A topic of inquiry may be chosen and students will choose a research question related to that topic. For instance, the current unit may be on plants and students would therefore choose a research question pertaining to plants. Students will do a search for current scientific information on their topic and analyze this information on how it relates to their topic. Students will proceed to write a procedure for an experiment that will answer their research question and to perform the experiment. To conclude the project, students will prepare their finding for a classroom science fair, including a group presentation of their research and a display board. A formal write-up of all steps of the process has been a requirement in my class, and helps students to realize the importance of written communication in the scientific process.
Varies depending upon experiments chosen
Cooperative groups of 3 preferably need to be made and students need to choose a research question. Students will do an initial literature search to inform themselves about their topic and to find out current research available. See handout at end of this section. This handout is something I give the students, and it sums up the activity well.
Method of Evaluation/Assessment
The project is judged as a science fair project would be. Students will be evaluated on their cooperation in the group, the group presentation, and the formal write-up of their science fair project. During the judging, questions can be asked of the students to aid in determining the level of mastery of their own experiment and of the scientific method. I also typically have a test question on a written exam in which students need to summarize all the aspects of their project.
Parents often appreciate being invited either to the actual classroom science fair during the day or to a repeat performance of the science fair during the evening.
Other teachers may want to get involved in the project in some way, ie. the art teacher helping with the display boards. Another idea for reinforcement is to invite an area scientist to discuss the project with the students, or in some way guide them through the process. On line situations for this reinforcement idea may be available. In this case, other schools in the country may be doing a similar project and students could share their research. Setting a a web page for their research may be another option for extension.