Students will use the experimental design process to create their own experiment.
Students will post their experiment on Edmodo and will then carry out an experiment designed by one of their classmates.
SC.6.N.1.1–Define a problem from the sixth grade curriculum, use appropriate reference materials to support scientific understanding, plan and carry out scientific investigation of various types, such as systematic observations or experiments, identify variables, collect and organize data, interpret data in charts, tables, and graphics, analyze information, make predictions, and defend conclusions.
- Send each student the Experiment Plan Google Doc.
- Students will spend several days designing an experiment. Teacher should scaffold during this process, making sure the experiments being designed are safe, make sense, and are manageable.
- Once students complete their plan, they will share their Experiment Plan Google Doc with a classmate to look at and review.
- Student will take any comments and suggestions and revise their plan.
- Once revised (and approved by the teacher), student will post the final plan on Edmodo.
- Students will then be assigned another students plan to carry out the investigation.
- While carrying out the investigation–students are expected to record data, and write a final lab report about the experiment they conducted using the Experiment Lab Report Google Doc.
- Student may discuss with the original author about the experiment, if needed.
- Student will then share the Experiment Lab Report Google Doc with original author and with the teacher to be graded.
Students will be assessed according to how the experiment they designed was carried out as well as to their final lab report of the experiment they carried out.
I will reflect upon the lesson and make any necessary changes for the future.
RationaleThis nature of science benchmark is a rather hefty benchmark to teach. In fact, it is the one benchmark that is found throughout the entire year in sixth grade science in the State of Florida–not to mention it’s also found in seventh and eighth grade as well. It also happens to be my favorite benchmark, because you cannot simply teach this benchmark by reading in a textbook or filling out a worksheet.
I have the privilege of working at a school that is a pilot school for digital curriculum. This means that every single student has been issued a laptop and in my class we have been paperless all school year! The integration of Google Drive (Google Docs) and Edmodo are integral parts of this lesson. It allows students a space to create and organize their experiment (Google Drive) and also a place for students to share and receive feedback on their experiment (Edmodo). By having students design their own experiments, students are really able to see all the necessary parts of science investigations. Throwing this lesson at them may seem quite lofty–however, we spend a majority of the first quarter learning about science investigations and my students have already gone through the designing an experiment process once as a group.
The combination of designing their own experiment (and then running the experiment of another student) and using tools like Google Drive and Edmodo creates this unique “21st Century” learning experience. My students will be able to research their experiment (available right inside Google Docs), write up their lab report, use Edmodo to share and ask questions and to receive instant feedback. Also, knowing their work will be available for their peers to read gives meaning to their work.
As Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011) indicate, the use of digital technologies such as Google Drive and Edmodo change the classroom model into learning environments that embrace change as students are able to learn, research, and play using digital tools. This means, lessons like this one can take place in the classroom, and students can be learning, researching, carrying out experiments at their own pace because not every student needs to be reading textbook page 82 while filling out a worksheet to satisfy the benchmark. Likewise, Renee Hobbs (2011) writes about the five core competencies as fundamental literacy practices that support all learning through digital means. This lesson supports these five competencies by allowing students access to information through research using their laptops, analyze by editing experiments written by other students, creating through designing their own experiment, reflecting on their own experiment and their peer’s experiment, and acting to hopefully enhance the learning community through the outcomes of their investigations.
Through lessons like this one, students are able to enhance their learning to fit the 21st century. Instead of leaving technologies to the privileged, or the students who finish early, or the one-day-a-week session, we can integrate these tools into our lessons to meet the needs of this new culture of learning.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.