Summer Research Program for Science Teachers
By: Lesia Kaszczak
Yonkers High School
One of the goals of every science teacher is to have his/her students learn
deductive as well as inductive reasoning. Scientists
are always making observations and must make inferences and conclusions based on
their observations. Unlike the lab
experiments we conduct with our students, in a real lab there are no answer keys
to check results. Our students are used to having results at the end of a
42-minute period. If the lab “did
not work” we explain what they “should have observed” or show them data
they “should have obtained”.
The lesson I am submitting is twofold.
Part 1 teaches the students the skill of visual observation.
Part 2 also focuses on observation skills, although not visual.
Part 2 is interesting because students are asked to make a conclusion
that is never proved or disproved by the teacher. In this case, there is no answer key.
Time Allotment 1-2 periods or 1 double period
Notes: Watch the students’ faces when they receive the question sheet. Many of them just recorded the contents of the box rather than specific details. This can lead into a discussion about “good observation skills”. It is also interesting to note how many girls, as opposed to boys, knew the color of the nail polish. Is subjectivity involved in making scientific observations?
Time allotment: 2-3 periods or 1 double period
This case study activity can be found on the marcopolo
(see direct links below)
This activity expands the observation skill to include
making indirect observations, i.e. observations without using our sense of
sight. Students are again given a
box, but this time the box is sealed with various objects inside.
Students, working in groups of 3 or 4, collect raw data by observing the
mass of the box, the movement, or lack thereof, of the contents, the number of
objects in the box, etc…
After the data has been collected, students must report their findings to the class. They must make a conclusion based on their observations.
When the activity is completed, the students will want to know the contents of the box. (Answer key syndrome). The Website encourages the teacher not to disclose the contents. This reinforces the notion that scientific discoveries or theories are often based on indirect observations and often we cannot “see” an object, such as an atom, but rather we study the behavior of the substance as we did with the box.
The following 2 links bring you right to the case study
Teaching notes: http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/cases/box/box_notes.html