Teacher Roadmap - Doing Investigations
Stay the Course, Anticipate Tweaks and New Ideas
Much of science is perseverance and attention to detail. Compared to the creative thinking to develop a question and the critical thinking and problem solving to design a research plan to answer it, collecting data can sometimes feel a little tedious.
When data collection gets underway, posting by student teams may become less frequent as students are unsure what to talk about during this phase. Conversations about tweaks to protocols and trouble-shooting, however, can be lively when students experience problems with their plans.
New ideas and potential sources of error may dawn on students after a period of observing and measuring. They may want to begin recording data on something new that they didn't notice before. As one PlantingScience teacher remarked:
"One of the major things that students need to cognizant of is how important it is for them to follow lab protocols and procedures as closely as possible. Not planting seeds exactly like other students, forgetting to water the plants, not counting hairs, leaves, pods, seeds accurately, not counting hairs properly, etc. My students automatically assumed that there was a wide margin of error built into the labs (much like the regular labs they do in science)."
- Encourage your students to make note of any human error, faulty equipment, or other feature they observe as they are collecting data that might influence their results.
- Ask students to evaluate any changes to protocols with you, their team, and their scientist mentor. Discuss together when it is appropriate to possible to include new sources of data to answer their question after an experiment is already underway. Students may not see how changing to their research design in mid-stream could affect their ability to answer the question originally posed.