A primary objective for my students is to learn the basic architecture of a controlled experiment. I have found that teaching how to deconstruct an already completed experiment really gets my students to think about experimental design and, as a result, they are designing much more robust experiments of their own. This lesson is a new twist on this practice by giving my students the opportunity to learn about some of the great research that their peers – fellow teens – are doing!
Experiments to deconstruct:
• 16-year-old pits germs against copper
• 17-year-old tests if parasites change digging behavior in sand crabs
• 15-year-old scares away garden-eating slugs
The lessons begin with a summary of the experiment followed by a series of questions that guide students in identifying the critical parts of any valid controlled experiment such as dependent and independent variables, variables held constant, and control groups.
Objectives of all Deconstructing an Experiment Instructional Worksheets:
1. Identify the independent and dependent variables of the experiment
2. Describe the control group and experimental group
3. Recognize what variables that must be held constant in a controlled experiment
4. Pinpoint the number of trials completed and discuss trial size and validity of results
5. Construct experimental questions and formal hypotheses
6. Analyze methods
7. Discuss what new information we can and cannot gleaned from the results
Answer Keys Included!