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Experimental design

Ecolinc
Full Day
Book Program
Year Levels

Background

Science is a mixture of historically accumulated knowledge and skills. These practical skills range from problem solving to data analysis; they are wide reaching and can frequently be applied outside the classroom. The teaching of these skills is a very important part of science education, but is often overlooked when focused on teaching the content. As science educators, we have all seen the benefits practical work has for student engagement and understanding. However, with the time constraints placed on the curriculum, the time needed for students to develop these investigative skills can get squeezed out. Too often we give students a ‘recipe’ to follow, which doesn’t allow students to take ownership of their practical work.

From a very young age, students start to think about the world around them. They ask questions then use observations and evidence to answer them. Students tend to have intelligent, interesting, and testable questions that they love to ask. As educators, we should be working towards encouraging these questions and in turn, nurturing this natural curiosity in the world around them.

This program provides a comprehensive, practical based focus on the experimental design process. The program will cover each area of the design process including forming a hypothesis, variables, fair design, displaying and analysing data and forming conclusions. This program is designed to provide a solid foundation for students who intend to take science in VCE.


Prior Knowledge

No prior knowledge required.


Key Learning Question

What is the experimental design process?


Learning Intentions

In this program student’s will:

  • Reflect on how scientists have historically come to understand how the universe works.
  • Learn to write an hypotheses,
  • Learn to distinguish between independent, dependent and controlled variables
  • Display and analyse data
  • Form conclusions

Activities

In this program student’s will:

  • Complete a series of experiments and activities to gain understanding of the experimental method
  • Ask their own questions, write their own hypothesis, identify variables, design their method and carry out their own investigation
  • Reflect on their own experimental design

VCE links

  • Formulate questions or hypotheses that can be investigated scientifically, including identification of independent, dependent and controlled variables (VCSIS134)
  • Independently plan, select and use appropriate investigation types, including fieldwork and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data, assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these investigation types (VCSIS135)
  • Select and use appropriate equipment and technologies to systematically collect and record accurate and reliable data, and use repeat trials to improve accuracy, precision and reliability (VCSIS136)
  • Construct and use a range of representations, including graphs, keys, models and formulas, to record and summarise data from students’ own investigations and secondary sources, to represent qualitative and quantitative patterns or relationships, and distinguish between discrete and continuous data (VCSIS137)
  • Analyse patterns and trends in data, including describing relationships between variables, identifying inconsistencies in data and sources of uncertainty, and drawing conclusions that are consistent with evidence (VCSIS138)
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to evaluate investigation conclusions, including assessing the approaches used to solve problems, critically analysing the validity of information obtained from primary and secondary sources, suggesting possible alternative explanations and describing specific ways to improve the quality of data (VCSIS139)

Learning Continuum

The following Learning Continuum is a guide for teachers to show the links between the programs Ecolinc offers onsite, online and through outreach. The Learning Continuum can be used to access Ecolinc resources to support the development of units of work.

Ecolinc Learn Online is an online learning management system offering interactive online courses for students and teachers. These courses can be undertaken either as a pre-visit, post-visit or stand-alone. Students are encouraged to do the pre-learning course before coming to Ecolinc for an onsite program.

Learn Online Pre-program:

The Scientific Method

Onsite:

Experimental design