Reflection: Checks for Understanding How Do You DO Science? - Section 5: Understand and Describe the Problem


I noticed today that some groups were easily coming up with some amazing questions to test, other groups were going ahead and using my questions, and a few groups were asking questions that just weren't testable.  On of my conversations today went like this.

Me- "Tell me what question you are thinking about"

Student- "We want to do, 'What makes a popper pop?'"

Me- "Hmmm.  How will you test that?"

Student- "Well we can tell that it is the shape."

Me- "OK but can you test that?  You want to choose something where you are comparing one situation to another, like different surfaces or different colors, or different temperatures."

Student- "Ok...I think we should do, "Can a popper fly?'"

At this point, if I could have beat my head against the wall, I would have!

 This conferencing opportunity quickly let me see that they didn't understand what I meant by test but weren't willing at the moment to shift their ideas.  I suggested they think about testing one of the sample questions, but they did not want to do that so I walked away.  About 5 min later I circled back to find that they had proven that a popper can not fly.  

This type of conversation shows how difficult the idea of testable questions really is.  In order to write testable questions, students need to have a grounded understanding of what good scientific experiments look like.  For some, this assignment is simply about planting a seed that might grow over time.  

  Testable questions
  Checks for Understanding: Testable questions
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How Do You DO Science?

Unit 1: The W's of Science
Lesson 4 of 5

Objective: Students use a science process to ask a question, create and perform an experiment, and evaluate data.

Big Idea: Pop. Pop. POP. Investigate popping toys!

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Science, shared reading, writing to demonstrate
  50 minutes
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