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Is this a fair test?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by FenellaF, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. FenellaF

    FenellaF New commenter

    God, I feel so thick! I am doing a science investigation, and I know what a fair test is, but I'm not sure if this is one, and if it isn't, what it is?
    I have an observation and the chn are going to investigate teeth. I am in Y3. We are going to talk about how our teeth are effectively the same, although a litle smaller, than neanderthal man, yet our diets are completely different.
    So, the question is, are our teeth effective for our diets today?
    I am going to give the chn some scissors, (cutting for incisors), 2 forks, (ripping and tearing for canines) and blocks, (crushing and grinding for molars) and then different types of food that we eat in our diets today - hard cheese, sauasages, bread, cooked pasta, salad, etc. I am not going to tell the children which implement represents which tooth. They will need to work that out themselves.
    They need to investigate which teeth are best for which food by using the different implements to break up the food. They then think about which teeth they used the most and evaluate whether our teeth are still adequate, or would we be better having more canines and less molars, etc.
    First of all, does this sound okay? I have never had a science observation before so I want to make sure it's spot on.
    Secondly, is it a fair test? I am changing the food, but keeping the implements, (although there are 3) the same.
    Thirdly (and finally..phew!) usually work in mixed ability pairs / groups with the differentiation by outcome. Should I change this for the observation, or stick with what I would normally do?
    Thanks for any help, I know we're all really busy this week so any input, (positive or negative) would really be appreciated.
    Thanks
     
  2. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    It is fair if each of the implements is tested on the same foods.
    I would stick with the pairs or groups that you normally use.
    Hope it goes well!
     
  3. FenellaF

    FenellaF New commenter

    Thanks Marlin, you always come to my help! I adapted the lesson plan for that girl with her banana as I didn't think that one banana would stretch them enough!
    If you ever need any help with anything, (although you sound so fab that it's highly unlikely!) I owe you big time.
    x
     
  4. Maybe you could ask the children if they think it's a fair test, and why? Better to question them about things like that than spoon feed them the answer. Sounds like a fun investigation though :)
     
  5. FenellaF

    FenellaF New commenter

    Ooh, I like that idea! I never thought about that. As you can see, I have got my knickers well and truly in a twist! Thank you x
     
  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Personally I think too much emphasis is placed on fair tests - especially in the younger years. Science shoud be about investigating and researching and just finding out. Getting your hands dirty, watching things go down ramps, looking at leaves, habitats. Over emphasis on fair tests just complicates things.

     
  7. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    No, it isn't a fair test because you aren't changing only one factor at a time. But that doesn't matter. Very little of what we can actually do in school is a true fair test. Your activity sounds like observation skills and pattern seeking. As for grouping, keep to mixed ability groups. Their literacy or numeracy skills make very little impact in an activity such as the one you have described, so don't worry about it.
    Good luck.
     
  8. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    You are only changing one factor if you consider it as separate tests for each food type.
    Which implement is best for each type of food? As long as you try each of the implements on each food it should be fair - the food stays the same but the implement changes.

     
  9. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Don't get too stuck on fair testing unless this is the teaching focus of your lesson.
    I think many people try to cram too much into science lessons - we get bogged down with the whole of the investigative process rather than focussing on one or two of these. Apart than anything, the standard "what we are trying to find out, what we will do, what equipment we will use, what we will keep the same, what we will change, our predictions are..." way of writing investigations up is boring and formulaic as well as having too much in here.
    Decide what your focus/es is/are...choosing equipment; devising an investigation; making observations or taking measurements, presenting or analysing data; drawing conclusions; devising a fair test (or just recognising variables); repeating investigations; evaluating effectiveness of investigations etc....and focus on those.
    Not every investigation needs to feature a focus on fair testing, nor even be a fair test, despite many teachers seemingly being obsessed by it.
     
  10. I was just about to say this exact same thing! You took the words right out of my mouth Nick!
     
  11. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    It sounds fun, and good luck. Just one or two niggles I would have if I was planning it myself for an observation:
    Have you tried this experiment to see if you can get through the food with the implements you are using? I am really not sure that you will be able to replicate how molars work by grinding up a cooked sausage with two wooden blocks. With the scissors, children will cut repeatedly, but really we don't really do that - we bite off a small amount of hard food with our incisors and then chew repeatedly with our molars.
    How are you going to make the links so that the children realise the scissors represent incisors without you really just dictating to them that scissors represent incisors, blocks represent molars etc and them not really seeing why (I'm not sure I entirely see why)?
    How does it answer the question about whether our teeth are fit for our current diet? Presumably they are, or we wouldn't all be getting obese?!!

    I'm finding it all a little confusing and I'm not year 3. I would be thinking about these other aspects, not if it is a fair test or not.
    Mixed ability groups versus not - oh mixed ability any day. There are children who should be able to give you some pretty good stuff in a practical subject like early KS2 science who don't deliver you the goods in numeracy or literacy.
     
  12. FenellaF

    FenellaF New commenter

    Thank you do much to everyone who has taken the time to comment. I have taken everything on board and have tweaked and changed, ummed and aahhed, and I am very happy with the end result. Any time you're out and about near Scunthorpe / Doncaster, give me a shout, I owe you a drink x
     
  13. FenellaF

    FenellaF New commenter

  14. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Go on then, please tell us more about your final plan!! And what does happen when you try to "chew" cooked sausage and baguette with wooden blocks?
     
  15. I would think that your investigstion may well fit quite neatly for L3 AF1 'Represent things in the real world using simple physical models.' After all that is exactly what you are endeavouring to do by representing the action of teeth by using a model.
     
  16. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Please tell me if chewing with wooden blocks works.Are there some serrated ones in classrooms?
     
  17. FenellaF

    FenellaF New commenter

    I will tell you on Wednesday when we find out!
     
  18. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Cor, you're brave!!
     
  19. FenellaF

    FenellaF New commenter

    Why? Isn't science all about having a go? It might go **** up, but hey...
     
  20. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    No, was just following on from the comment that the best science comes from things going "**** up" e.g. the discovery of penicillin was a bit of a mistake. And I'm genuinely interested to hear how it goes and if it works.
     

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