Telling a classroom full of kids that we’re going to learn about the scientific method might sound as interesting as telling them they need to vacuum the cracks in the couch. Nobody sees that stuff in there anyway, so why bother with the details?
But the details do matter. They matter to the entire experiment. Every experiment. We cannot have a conclusion if we do not first ask a question or formulate a hypothesis. And if we aren’t careful in how we collect our data, or consistent with our materials will any of it matter?
No. It won’t.
So that’s where we began today–walking slowwwwly and talking over and over again through the steps of the scientific method.
What’s here is our bread. Three loaves of Country White. As well as a spray bottle of water, a spray bottle of disinfectant and black gloves. All things we’re going to use in our experiment.
Using the bread as the subject for our experiment, we’ve got to first come up with a QUESTION.
Our question is: Which bread slice will mold the fastest–the control piece (the piece that has nothing done to it)? the wet piece (the piece sprayed with water)? or the disinfectant piece (the one sprayed with disinfectant)?
What else comes up in discussion are the variables. Variables are things that can be changed. In an experiment we want our variables to all be the same EXCEPT for the one that we want to observe.
So some of our variables we’ve got to talk through are: how wet each water-sprayed piece of bread gets; how many squirts of disinfectant goes on the disinfectant piece; whose fingers touch the bread before it goes into the bag (hence the gloves); how sealed each bag is….etc.
Once we’ve stated our question, we’ve now got to declare what we think will happen in the experiment and why we think that will happen–we have to write our hypothesis.
Our Hypothesis begins…I think that _________ piece of bread will mold the fastest because _______________.
And the reason the because part matters is that we’re drawing an initial conclusion based on how we understand the workings of the world. And maybe we don’t understand it all…and that’s okay.
A complete hypothesis might sound like this:
I think the piece of wet bread will mold the fastest because stuff that is soggy always seems to go bad more quickly than dry stuff. Also, I think the piece with disinfectant will mold last because disinfectant is supposed to kill germs.
Something like that.
And this takes time. The writing part. But with each effort we give–asking a question, writing a hypothesis, we will get better. The process will be easier.
What we may not understand yet is that a hypothesis is neither right nor wrong. It is merely what we think, based on what we know.
All right. So here’s our set up. The first stop for every kid is with Miss Mandy. Here each person must create his own labels for his three bags.
Then with his labels attached to his bags, he brings his bags to his second stop: Miss Lisa.
Here Lisa, with gloves on, places a piece of bread in the control bag.
For the second piece, she sprays it with water–the same amount for each person’s “wet” bread.
The third piece, then, is sprayed with disinfectant.
Each person has his own little science kit now with three pieces of bread in it.
Just like this.
Now we’re checking that our bags are sealed. Exciting, eh?
Ho ho ho!
At home now, each of our scientists needs to record what he observes.
This is one of the sheets where his daily observations will be recorded.
All of our scribbling today.
How we really feel about it. 🙂
Enjoy your Thanksgiving!