Reflection: Safety Conducting an Experiment: (The Scientific Method in Action part 2) - Section 1: Introduction


Even though I make these points again in the conducting the experiment section, it's important to state the importance of student safety right up front with some examples and a cautionary tale.


First of all, make sure that you have a large, open, grassy space to conduct the experiment in.  You absolutely can not conduct this experiment in a classroom as students can and WILL fall down frequently.  

Even in a large grassy space, students will still need to be monitored.  In this photo, you can see that although students are largely in the grass, they've congregated too close to a concrete border and some steps.  I can not overstate the likelihood that students will wind up in a much different space than where they begin spinning.  I had to tell these students to move away from the wall (they did so begrudgingly because I think they prefer to sit on concrete or on steps rather than in the grass).  


This photo shows several groups spreading out through the grassy area, but take note of the students in the distance.  Although the students in the foreground are well positioned, I had to stay in constant motion to make sure that ALL groups are safely situated.  This really is something you'll have to do the whole time as they tend to gravitate back to areas where the "rest of the group" can sit more comfortably.


Finally, even when students follow all the rules you spell out for them, they can still get hurt.  As this unfortunate photo shows, falling down hurts.  This student was part of a group that was well positioned in the field and doing the written task portion of her group's experiment.  However, since the maze she needed to complete was sitting with a pen on the ground, the simple act of reaching for it while dizzy left her falling face first on the ground.  I had another student escort her to the main office to see the nurse, and I received a visit from the assistant principal during the next period.  Luckily, the student was in good enough spirits about it and the principal agreed that the task was worthwhile because of it's educational merit, but you may want to conduct this experiment at your discretion.  I can certainly imagine a different student and/or administrator making this lesson more trouble than it's worth.  Proceed with Caution!

  Safety: Safety FIRST!!!
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Conducting an Experiment: (The Scientific Method in Action part 2)

Unit 1: The Nature of Science
Lesson 7 of 9

Objective: Students will follow procedures developed in the previous lesson to conduct an experiment and collect quantitative and qualitative data.

Big Idea: Experiences in the field can highlight the shortcomings of an experimental design. Also: Science is fun!

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