Put a marble at one point along the ruler, but don't tell the students the cm position of the marble. Release the marble and let students observe that the marble moves the cup along the tabletop. Some students will likely say that the higher the marble is on the ramp, the farther the cup will move. Ask the students, "Why do you think so?" Encourage them to relate the marble and ramp to experiences they have sledding down a hill, skateboarding down a ramp, or sliding down a slide.
Ask students to suggest ways that they could predict more accurately how far the cup will move from a point without actually releasing the marble from that point. Guide students to suggest collecting data to show a pattern and then using the pattern to make a prediction.
This lab uses every day objects: ruler, cup, marble, tape, books. All of the carts, tables and a grading rubric are included in the download. I have also included the web sites so you can create your own if you need to modify it.
The lab is divided into the 7 Es: Engagement (Motivation & Inquiry), Exploration (Instruction), Explanation (Processing Information & Elaboration), Evaluation, Elaboration & Extension.
This ties in with the Calif Standards:
1.a. Students know position is defined in relation to some choice of a standard reference point and a set of reference directions.
9.a. Plan and conduct a scientific investigation to test a hypothesis.
9.b. Evaluate the accuracy and reproducibility of data.
9.c. Distinguish between variable and controlled parameters in a test.
9.e. Construct appropriate graphs from data and develop quantitative statements about the relationships between variables.
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