At the end of our guided Electromagnet investigation, I closed with students writing questions about electromagnets they were interested in testing further. My plan for today was to allow groups to develop those questions into experiments. I wrote the Directions for Students on the board. At this point, they were pretty familiar with developing questions, and they got right to work.
As tables were working, I circulated around to give support and guidance in developing testable questions and limiting the materials to things I knew I had or could get access to. I was really impressed by how far they have come in proper experimental design.
I did this the next day to allow more time to approve experimental designs, to meet with groups I wasn't sure about, and to prepare the materials I needed.
I reviewed expectations for working in groups, and then had them get started. As they were working, I made sure groups were on task and really emphasized recording data. In the past, I had many students who were so wrapped up in the experiment that they weren't recording their results.
Because each group was testing a different question, we didn't have data to put together. I had representatives from each table share, and we had an important discussion on why two groups that tested the same variable might have gotten different results. They even suggested repeating the test to get to the bottom of it!