1,2,3,4-I declare war!

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Students will examine cause and effect and partake in an investigation on whether or not the size of one’s thumb determines the outcome of a thumb war.

Big Idea

Does thumb size actually matter when it comes to war? Use an investigative techniques to solve this mystery!

Bell Ringer

5 minutes

This Daily Warm-Up allows me to review the content that was taught the previous lesson. As students respond, I ask secondary questions that require them to elaborate and give me more detail about the content that was taught.  For example, after a student answers the first question, I ask, “Which variable would you plot on the x-axis, and which on the y-axis?”  I then conduct a brief review of the content, using inquiry questioning of the whole group as the method of review.  After a student answers, I ask a second or even third student, “Do you agree or disagree with what was just said?”  The student has to provide an explanation for their agreement or disagreement. This allows them to practice academic discourse  and build verbal skills.

Introduce New Material

15 minutes

Students will conduct a lab on the scientific method to give them an opportunity to practice science skills. Introduce the lab, Thumb Wrestle.

Provide a verbal brief summary of the lab purpose, supplies, and procedure.  

I also remind students of the time that is allotted for the lab and remind them that they should make sure that they remain productive during the activity, which is student-driven.

To help students remain on task, I project a visual timer on the LCD projector so that they are able to self-monitor.  I also periodically call out the remaining time for those who will benefit from this type of verbal reminder.  

Because this lab involves measurements, it's beneficial to introduce Scientific Measurement, specifically precision and accuracy, so that students will know how they differ and how bias plays a role in measurement.


Guided Practice

5 minutes

I find it helpful to  briefly review how to use and read a tape measure. Don't assume that high school students know how to correctly use measurement tools like tape measures or rulers.

Because of the differing skill levels in a typical class of students, demonstrate the procedure for correctly measuring thumb length.  Also,demonstrate the process of thumb war play.  

Every lab that involves measurement offers an opportunity to review measurement concepts and what tool is used for what type of measurement.

 Model the use of a tape measure and give them a chance to practice measuring their wrists before they are released to work independently.  This type of proactive approach saves a lot of questions and/or inaccurate measurements during the actual lab type.

Also model how to use and add results to a bracket pool play sheet.  You can download a version that you like from the internet.


Independent Practice

25 minutes

Instruct students work independently to conduct the Thumb Wrestle lab. Instruct them to add their individual data measurements an a classroom computer that has the data collection thumb measurement spreadsheet on it.  

This makes it easier and faster for students to collect and record measurements. Students add their own results and copy other students’ results directly from the computer screen.  I walk around the room to look for correct technique in measuring, completion of the data table, and display of data findings.

Instruct students to conduct an analysis of the data and respond to a set of lab questions. Also, instruct students will to create a graph of the data for their specific gender group, using the data collected on the computer.

Student work provides great information for the teacher.  When I review students' work, I look for consistent themes and areas where I can say "yes,students met the learning target" or "no, most students did not meet the learning target so more instruction is needed."  

In this activity, a review of the student work found

  • student work indicates some students were able explain why this was not a controlled experiment
  • student work shows some students were not able to write  well-written hypothesis statement.
  • student work indicates that some could not explain what was different between their hypothesis and the actual results and why it was a different outcome than expected.
  • Also, student work indicates an understanding that thumb size was not indicative of wins but the student was not able explain why wins would still occur for a smaller thumbs compared to a larger thumb.  His graph indicates a grasp of how to graph data correctly.
  • student work indicates a level of confusion regarding controlled variables.  This type of response tells me that a review of what controlled variables is warranted.  Also, the graph for student work 2 shows that there is more teaching needed as it relates to graphing data.

In summary, based on a review of the students work, I identify a need to review controls and controlled experiments.  I will also need to create more opportunities for students to explain the "why" of their answers and provide more instruction around data analysis and graphing.


5 minutes

Ask students, “Based on the results of this lab, what variable(s) appear to have greater causal effect for winning thumb wars?” Students share and defend their opinions with the group using academic discourse sentence prompts.

Look for students to identify the variables of the experiment.  To extend the discussion, query them to identify the strengths or weaknesses of the experiment design and ask them to defend their point of view.


5 minutes

Instruct students to compare and contrast accuracy and precision in paragraph form or drawing.