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Setting up science investigation Y3/4

Discussion in 'Primary' started by beethan31, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. beethan31

    beethan31 New commenter

    Ok, so I'm feeling a bit brain dead (and it's only Monday!) and am going round in circles trying to plan tomorrow's science.
    Basically I want to do a science investigation to find out "Do plants need light to grow?" I want the kids to select (in pairs) what equipment they need from what's available (cress seeds, plastic trays to grow it in, kitchen roll to grow it on, pipettes for watering), and decide how they're going to make it a fair test and where they are going to put the seeds (e.g. hoping they'll plant 2 pots and put one on windowsill and one somewhere dark). I was going to give them a booklet to complete (with what we are finding out/what we need/what we are going to do/our prediction/results/conclusion in it).
    I'm trying to let them make some decisions so I can assess their AT1 skills. Do you think this is too spoon fed?? Or is there enough independence there? The last science investigations we did were too heavily teacher led I felt.
    What do you think? I feel like I'm over-thinking it.
  2. First thing I'm thinking is what do you mean by 'grow'? Do you mean 'germinate' or 'affect how well a plant will grow'? In which case, you need to be thinking about how you will measure that.
    In Y2/3, I think getting them to select equipment for a test is quite hard without a lot of guidance (in Y5 i provide a variety of equipment and resources, with 'dummy' stuff that they don't really need. I make it clear they should select the minmum possible, otherwise they are always tempted to use the lot in any way possible!
    I'd focus on the 'fair test' aspect personally. It's hard, but the crux of testing really. Get them to work together to decide what they are changing (one thing) and what must be kept the same in every test.
  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    But I teach year 2 and I would definitely not give them only the equipment they need to choose from. If the choose the 'wrong' bits then that is part of learning. Also it gives me the chance to question them 'why did you choose that?' 'Is it working out to be the best idea?' and so on.

    i would put all the equipment on a table and have lots of things they don't need or that will make life trickier. So kitchen paper, but also soil. Seed trays, but also plant pots. Pipettes, but also watering cans. And so on.

    I would have a booklet or sheet with the sort of sections you mention for them to fill in.

    Fair testing is nonsense for most of primary school science and I'd not bother too much with it in year 3/4. They might choose a cupboard as a dark place, but then someone might open the door.
  4. beethan31

    beethan31 New commenter

    The main focus was going to be how well the plant will grow, but we'd discuss germination too as all the seeds should germinate. They can then measure the height of the plants so they'll have something to compare.
    I've got y3/4 but they're quite a fussy bunch so I might just put out what equipment they actually need.
    Fair test bit sounds good. Thanks. I'm that dopey tonight I'm having to write out the fair test for myself!!
  5. beethan31

    beethan31 New commenter

    Just cross posted with you minnieminx. That sounds good re: the equipment, that's the sort of thing I was originally thinking.
    Re: fair testing, our science coordinator likes us to do it so.. y'know, jumping through the old hoop!
  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I would think carefully what aspect you want them to learn or show you they know. If you want to assess AT1 skills then look at the APP grids at the appropriate level for the aspect you want to assess and ensure you give children the opportunity to show/learn that. The rest can then be scaffolded as much as you wish.
  7. Benbamboo

    Benbamboo Occasional commenter

    I teach year 3/4 and personally, I would do the investigation twice. The first time I would let them choose what equipment they want to use with little to no input. In small groups this will almost certainly lead to some discussion about what they need to use. Get them to record what they chose and why, either on paper of record it verbally.
    Wait a couple of weeks and look at whose has worked and whose hasn't. The lack of success is as big a learning tool as spoon feeding. The resultant discussion will weed out a lot of misconceptions that may otherwise go unnoticed.
    Repeat the investigation again. Knowing pretty much what things the children will choose second time round (usually the materials the most successful group chose), then they can carry out a structured investigation (fair tests et al) safe in the knowledge that they have the required knowledge.
    The recording for their first investigation doesn't need to be much, it is merely a way to get the children actively thinking about the growing process in a way that will matter to them. The structured investigation with all the relevant AT1 parts will follow in the second investigation.
  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Oooo now that is a good idea. And with cress, you'll see by next week's science lesson which has worked and which not.
  9. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    As far as fair testing is concerned, you can make it as fair as possible, but not completely fair. You can't only change one variable as soon as you are testing the effect of a variable on different seeds/plants.

    I tend to demonstrate a similar test to the one I want children to do, pointing out all the things I am using/changing/measuring/keeping the same as I go as well as making some pretty obvious mistakes so they can point out the unfairness of any points as I go along.
    I then challenge them to plan the test I want to do that won't be too similar to the one we've just done. Occasionally we use a planning board where all the variables are on post its and there are boxes for changing, keeping the same and a coloured box for measuring. We put the thing we are measuring on a coloured post it and everything else on yellow ones. Then we play a race game to put the different variables in the right places depending on what they are going to test. E.g . if changing the light or the temperature or the amount of water. They like this game and it is a good way of finding the children who have a good understanding of fair testing without labouring the point.


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