-Try out the selected Science Inquiry lessons!-

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Activities & Lessons for Middle School Students

1. Prerequisite lessons for Science Inquiry (appropriate for elementary and middle school students):

The Scientist and the Engineer Lesson

This lesson helps elementary-aged students understand the difference between a scientist and an engineer. They also learn about creating a controlled experiment and get to see a good (controlled) experimental set-up at the end of the lesson. Students can then run the experiment if they wish.

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Experiment-related Vocabulary Lesson

This interactive lesson introduces students to basic vocabulary words related to experimental design and science inquiry in general. Students are given feedback on their responses throughout this lesson.

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2. Lessons on selecting good research questions:

Research Question Lesson

This lesson helps students understand what a “good” general research question is, one that allows them to design a controlled experiment. They will learn about the proper format of a research question that includes an independent variable and dependent variable. They will also gain practice considering whether the variables they’ve selected for their experiment are easily measurable.

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Picking a Good Research Question: Worked Example mode

Students often select research questions that are too easy or too difficult for them. This lesson guides students through the process of selecting a research question that is appropriate for their knowledge level. Students will gain metacognitive knowledge and skills as they watch a virtual student work through this process, explaining her choices.

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Picking a Good Research Question: Guided Example mode

In the Research Question (RQ) module, students can select a research question from eight different topics within four different science areas and view animations for one trial run of a chosen experiment. Students can design experiments for their chosen research question in the TED Tutor (below).

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3. Lessons/materials for supporting background research:

Plan Your Research Lesson (overview)

The Plan Your Research Lesson provides students with important tips on making an overall plan for doing background research in the Background Research Module, including what information to find out about.

Background Research: Worked Example

A virtual “high school student” conducts research on the questions he had developed for his research question earlier. For each question, the virtual student follows a cycle of (a) considering what he already knows about the question, (b) planning and searching for information, (c) reading and explaining relevant text, (d) taking notes of relevant information, and (e) summarizing the information (e.g., in text and/or pictorial form).

Background Research Module

The Background Research Module (BRM) consists of units on various science concepts relevant to forming hypotheses for the research question students chose in the RQ Module. These units are written to be understandable to students at a middle school level, address common misconceptions about science concepts, and consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Throughout the units are embedded questions with immediate feedback to assess student learning and games that reinforce learning.

For more info about the BRM click here.

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4. Assessments and lesson for instruction on experimental design:

TED pretest: Design and Evaluate experiments

The TED pretest features 6 word problems: 3 asking students to design and 3 asking students to evaluate experiments and correct them (if necessary). Students receive one point for each experiment they correctly design, one point for each correct evaluation, and one point for each correction they make (for a total of 9 points).

**Scores are shown at the end. Students who score less than about 6 out of 9 on this may benefit from working through the TED Tutor.

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TED (Training in Experimental Design) Tutor

The TED Tutor provides instruction on experimental design in the science area and topic students selected (in the Research Question module). Students can select the area, topic, and variable they chose in the RQ module at the beginning of this TED Tutor. Students design and evaluate given experiments and receive immediate feedback on their responses.

(The TED Tutor is currently being further developed and refined, but this demo works.)

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TED posttest: Design and Evaluate experiments

The TED posttest is similar to the TED pretest but the experiments are in novel domains; this allows us to determine if students have developed a robust understanding of experimental design.

**As with the TED pretest, students can see their scores at the end (out of 9).

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5. Other activities related to experiment-based science inquiry:

Histogram Lesson

This lesson helps students understand how to create and interpret histograms, which is important in interpreting experimental data outcomes. This lesson also includes a short assessment, provides corrective feedback to students and a final quiz score.

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Data Interpretation Worked Example Lesson

This lesson helps students understand how to interpret data. It also includes multiple questions and corrective feedback for students.


Science Fair Poster Analysis Activity

This activity gives students opportunities to evaluate and analyze hypothetical students' science fair posters, which include common mistakes (actual) students make. This activity also allows students to create their own posters. Students are given feedback on their responses in this activity and an overall performance score at the end.

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