Student Designed Land and Water Experiment

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SWBAT describe what they know about land and water and pose questions to investigate.

Big Idea

Land and water interact in complex ways that affect life on Earth.


15 minutes

I begin this lesson by asking my students to review the testable question that they chose with their science team in the previous lesson. I ask students to do so to give purpose to their work in today's lab. I inform my students that they will be writing an investigation to test the question that they select. To help guide this process, I distribute a copy of the lab outline to each student. I review the components of a scientific investigation (purpose, hypothesis, materials, procedures, data, conclusions) with the whole class.  I place a particular emphasis on hypothesis section as students are required to write an if..then..because statement (see the lab outline for an example).  

Independent Practice

30 minutes

Once the students understand the components of the investigation that they will design. I review strategies that they can use to work effectively with their science team. These strategies include conducting a vote, using a non-verbal signal (such as thumbs up or down), tracking time for debate, and trun-taking. Reviewing these team work strategies helps my students to successfully engage in their work.

I then provide time for student groups to design their investigation. I ask them to complete the purpose (testable question), hypothesis, materials, and procedures sections of their student designed lab recording sheet. I also ask students to determine what data they will record and to decide on a method to record their data (chart, graph, etc.)

Samples of my student's investigations can be found here and here.


15 minutes

After the student groups have designed their investigations, I ask the students to share their lab designs with the whole class. This sharing out of student work allows the whole class to provide constructive feedback to their peers. The students who are sharing must clearly communicate their purpose, hypothesis, and lab procedures. I give the other students the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, make suggestions, or give compliments to each group as they finish their work. This process also serves as a final check-in which allows me to determine that all student-designed labs are safe, complete, and accurately designed to test the student-generated question.

A video of one student sharing her team's design can be found here.