Reflection: High Expectations Using a Generator To Light It Up! - Section 2: Explore

Student skill varies on the development of a scientific investigation. My strategy is to allow the students to design the lab themselves but I have to scaffold the student understanding. My students are really good at coming up with a problem and determining the controls. I have to offer ideas and choices when students discuss what to measure. I use lab white boards and ask students to read one another's ideas as they develop the investigation. I ask questions that lead students to the correct answers (but of course it is their job to figure it out). For example, I might say, "Group 1 thinks the independent variable is time. Who has a better idea? Why?"

The Generator lab is especially difficult because the data is not quantitative. The students have a hard time understanding how to measure how tired a classmate feels. In addition, the brightness of the light bulb is hard to measure (without equipment).

To scaffold the experiment, I pick one of the larger boys and say, "Let's check to see if this is working." I let the child light up a bulb and give his feedback to the rest of the class. I am also "thinking aloud" to model for students what to look for, and how to organize that thinking. With the information of a classmate and my use of metacognitive clues, students begin to understand how to measure the energy by surveying the classmate.

A big idea is the conceptualization of an investigation. My students are accustomed to having the lab done for them and they fill in the blanks. This time, they are creating the investigation itself. By showing the materials and having a demonstration the students are given a concrete starting point.

Designing the Investigation
High Expectations: Designing the Investigation

Using a Generator To Light It Up!

Unit 4: Measuring Energy
Lesson 4 of 4

Big Idea: How does using energy feel? This fun activity uses a bike and a motor! Students pedal to light up light bulbs to determine which bulb takes more physical energy to light.

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115 minutes

Sydney Schuler

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