This project helps students to actually BE scientists with an approachable and fun challenge in experimental design! Students choose a type of consumer product for which they will determine the most superior brand out of 3 to 4 brands of that product (for example: Bounty, Scott, Brawny, and store brand paper towels). Students employ the experimental design process by making observations about their products, designing three experiments to test different aspects of the products to determine superiority, predicting the outcome of the experiments using observational data, peer evaluating other students’ experimental designs, carrying out and collecting data during the three experiments, and communicating their results using a Claim, Evidence, Reasoning framework and accompanying graphs. I have my students work in pairs for this project.
You can do this project at any time during the school year! You could use this in the beginning of the year to put experimental design into practice, for a mid-year change of pace, or as an end-of-year assessment of your students’ science practices.
Boost excitement and engagement by letting the students choose what type of consumer product and brands they would like to test! They will probably shock you with their great ideas! I have had students test everything from gummy bears, to facial makeup removing wipes, to disposable diapers, to hand soaps, gum brands, lipsticks, sunscreens, toilet papers, etc. Students’ experimental tests should produce quantitative data and they should be tests that can be performed in your classroom with equipment that is available. I make the typical equipment visibly available (balances, spring scales, graduated cylinders, small weights, rulers, stopwatches, beakers, etc.) and they either know how to use this equipment or they figure it out/ask me (it’s great inquiry!).
This resource includes: detailed teacher notes on how to facilitate this project, student project proposal sheet with peer evaluation section, student experimental designs planning sheet with peer evaluation section, data tables in hard copy and Google Sheets digital format, Claim-Evidence-Reasoning report template in hard copy and Google Slides digital format, grading rubric, and sample C-E-R reports in hard copy and digital formats.
My students LOVED doing this project and I felt really proud of their ownership of the experimental design process. You can have your students present their findings about which of their brands is superior to the others.
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