Reflection: Conferencing Answering Our Wind Questions - Section 3: Designing our experiments


As students were working on their experimental designs, I moved from group to group. I asked each group to explain what they were thinking to help answer the question they had chosen. My purpose was to have a chance to talk to each group to see if they were able to take the question they had chosen, the answer they thought would be true for their question, and to think of a way to prove or disprove their answer. I knew that talking to each group would give me a chance to assess their understanding of the task they were attempting to do.

Of the 8 groups that were working, 1 group chose a research topic and told how they would read books and look on the computer. All of the other groups chose an experimental design. Only 1 group seemed unable to think of a set of steps to take to test an answer to their question. Every other group had come up with a logical design. The two groups that chose "Can you stop wind?" both decided to create some sort of wall. One group even decided to use a pinwheel on the other side of the wall from the fan to see if the wind was really stopped. The two groups that asked, "why can't you feel wind in water," thought of similar designs where they would use a fan to make the wind and use a bowl of water with their hands in it to see if they could feel the wind under water. 

I needed to sit down with the group that was unable to think of a series of steps. I asked them to look again at their question and the answer they thought might be true. I asked, how could you see if this was true? Their question was, "can you see wind?" They had trouble with what they might do so I asked if they thought they might use a book or an experiment to answer the question? They suggested an experiment but wanted to look up the experiment in a book. I told them some scientists do copy other experiments and that maybe they should start by looking for ideas in a book. They went to the library to get some ideas. The book helped them to form a plan to use a fan and put black and then white paper behind it. They would look to see if the background made it possible to see the wind. Together we wrote down the steps they might take. 

The designs were creative and a great first step in experimental design to answer a question.

  Assessing Student Understanding
  Conferencing: Assessing Student Understanding
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Answering Our Wind Questions

Unit 3: Understanding Our Earth
Lesson 8 of 13

Objective: SWBAT use a form to design and carry out an experiment to answer their own question about wind

Big Idea: Beginning to design a scientific exploration helps students to understand the scientific process.

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