Reflection: Exploring Controlled Experiments (Part 1/2) - Section 3: Explore


Simulations are a stimulating way to helps students "live" a concept. Not only does actively participating in a simulation help students make connections to prior knowledge, the activity helps promote retention of that concept. For instructions on how to run a simple controlled experiments simulation to help students make the concept come alive, view this video: Stimulating Simulations.

For a written script, follow along here:

The simulation goes something like this.

1) State the experimental problem. For example: A researcher wants to find the effects of drinking Monster Energy drinks on 6th grade students' test performance.

2) Identify variables. For example: Independent Variable = Drinking Monster Energy; Dependent Variable = Test Performance; Controlled Variables = Student Age, Type of Test, Test Administration, Testing Environment.

3) Split the class into two groups. Pretend to give each student a cup without telling them if they are getting Monster Energy or not. Students "drink" from cup. Have students pretend to take a test.

4) Post "data" on board. Create a data table of test results for students to analyze to see if Monster Energy drink had an effect on test scores.

5) Debrief. Debriefing is necessary to get to the heart of why control and experimental groups exist. This discussion should clarify what happens to the subjects in a control group versus experimental group.

Additionally, discussion about why subjects are not told which group they are in is important to focus on. For more on the placebo and nocebo effects, check out these videos: The Strange Powers of the Placebo Effect and This Video Will Hurt.

  Role Playing in Science - Stimulating Simulations
  Role Playing in Science - Stimulating Simulations
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Exploring Controlled Experiments (Part 1/2)

Unit 3: Scientific Inquiry Practices
Lesson 2 of 5

Objective: SWBAT identify factors of a controlled experiment.

Big Idea: Investigation versus experimentation -- students learn the difference between "just messing around" and designing an experiment.

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