Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Reaction Rate Procedure Trial - Section 2: Do Now/Activator


To contextualize this lesson, I share a story with students. This summer, while working at the Hayward Lab at the Silvio O. Conte National Polymer Research Center, I learned a valuable lesson. I was trying to synthesize gold nanorods under the supervision of a graduate student who wanted to use them in his research.

The synthesis proved to be more difficult than we anticipated, and it was frustrating. However, this was good for my teaching practice—it taught me of the importance of perfecting a procedure prior to using it.

I bring this experience into this lesson by repeatedly emphasizing the idea that students are conducting a trial run of their procedure in order to come to an understanding of how the procedure looks at the lab bench with the goal of revising their procedure. This may mean that the procedure itself needs to be modified, or it may mean that the level of detail needs to be improved so that someone else is able to replicate the experiment.

I have never done this before, but I realize that this summer influenced me by making me realize that if I want students to create a solid experimental procedure, then I need to give them some space to explore how the procedure works prior to running the full set of trials.

I tell students that there are two lessons to be learned from this story. First, everyone, even scientists at the best polymer science program in the country, struggle with experimental design. Second, I want to remind them that as a scientist I know that if you are afraid to do be wrong, you cannot do science! Science is filled with trial and error.

  Learning from Real Scientists
  Adjustments to Practice: Learning from Real Scientists
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Reaction Rate Procedure Trial

Unit 6: Reaction Rates
Lesson 3 of 8

Objective: Students will evaluate their experimental design by conducting a trial run of their reaction rate experiment.

Big Idea: Scientists plan out a procedure but often modify it based on what they learn from conducting a trial of the procedure.

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