Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Exploring the Scientific Process

We've started off 4th grade science by taking a closer look at exactly how scientists have to be precise and specific when they do experiments to help others understand what they've done. To do this every scientist follows the scientific method or scientific process when they are doing an experiment.

We have taken a close look at the different steps of the process. They are:

  • Observe - look at the world around you and notice things that make you curious
  • Ask Questions - ask some questions about why those things happen, or ask questions about what would happen if you did something different
  • Hypothesize - predict an answer to your question
  • Plan - make a plan for the experiment you'd like to do
  • Perform the Experiment - follow your plan to see what happens
  • Analyze the Data - draw diagrams, take pictures, record movies, or make charts and graphs so that you can show people what happened
  • Draw Conclusions - see what you learned, if you're hypothesis was proven, and how this could help other people; sometimes this makes you want to do another experiment

We did a different experiment to learn about each of these different steps. Our class and Mrs. Towsen's class developed our observation skills by trying to figure out what was in Mystery Boxes. We practice making hypotheses by trying to figure out what would happen if we put gummy bears in a cup of water for 24 hours. Our All About Me Bags helped us practice diagramming, and we surveyed our classes to learn all sorts of favorite things.

To see how all of the pieces fit together, we did a Water Cup and Paperclip Experiment. We talked about what we knew about full cups of water (did you know that water can actually go ABOVE the top of the cup??? How crazy is that!?!) and paperclips, and then there was a question. Mrs. Bair asked us, "How many paperclips will it take to overflow an already full cup of water?" Many of us hypothesized it would take between 5 and 10. Boy, were we ever surprised!!!! Check out these pictures taken by Woodner:
Getting started - many of us were already way off

Holy Moly! Over half full and still not overflowing!

Can you see the meniscus on the top of the water? 

FINALLY!!! It overflowed! You can definitely see how the water is over the top of the cup here!
It took 507 paperclips to make the cup overflow!! Mrs. Towsen's class only needed 178 to make their cup overflow so we talked about some variables, the things that might have been different. One was our paperclips. We had very tiny paperclips, and Mrs. Towsen's class used bigger ones. Another variable was the amount of water in the cup to start. Our cup only had a tiny meniscus so that may be why it took longer.

We had a lot of fun talking about our results and how far off our hypotheses were. Now that we completed this experiment together we are branching off and doing the same type of experiment on our own. Seven different groups are using different classroom materials to design and complete and experiment to learn more about water and how it works. Check back here at the end of the week to see the results!

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