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  1. 1. Experimenting
  2. 2. Background An experiment is described as a learning activity wherein a student investigates a problem by manipulating a variable. The condition or factor which affects the results of an experiment is termed a variable. The condition being tested or changed is the manipulative variable and the condition that is kept the same is the constant variable. Conducting an experiment entails the employment of skills in a number of investigative processes. The basic ones are : a)observing, b) classifying, c) measuring, and d) inferring. The integrated skills are: a) predicting, b) controlling variables, c) formulating hypothesis, d) analysing and interpreting data and e)formulating conclusion. The development of the above skills is one of the twin goals of science teaching, the other being the development of the skill in the use of scientific method.
  3. 3. Basically the scientific method includes the following steps: 1. Identification of a problem 2. Collecting data 3. Formulating hypothesis 4. Testing the likely hypothesis 5. Analysis and interpretation 6. Formulating conclusions
  4. 4. In experimenting, the students determine the variable they need to manipulate. This would entail establishing two groups that possess similar characteristics. One group will be given the special treatment while the other will serve as the control group. Then the results will be analysed to find out any difference brought about by the variable being tested.
  5. 5. Rationale Experimenting is employed for the following reasons: 1. To develop skill in the basic science processes. 2. To cultivate an acquiring mind among the young. 3. Higher-order thinking skills especially critical thinking, creativity and inventiveness are best acquired by experience and constant use. 4. “Learning-by-doing” forms part of the student’s attitudes, habits and ways of reacting. 5. A methodical procedure, as a way of solving puzzling/problem situations, is internalized and instantly applied.
  6. 6. Rationale 6. Hearsays, superstitions and unfounded beliefs are replaced by more objective assessment and evaluation. Suspending judgement and carefully weighing evidences are acquired through constant use of experimenting. 7. The students are made aware of the ways of the scientists, their persistence, anxieties , and relentless toil, thus instilling the value of being appreciative and grateful for their achievements. 8. Because they have to complete the experiment by themselves from problem, procedure, to conclusion, they become responsible for their own learning activity
  7. 7. Pointers For an experiment to be successful, the following reminders are: 1. The problem must be well defined and clearly understood before performing the experiment. 2. Choose one variable to be tested at a time. Never vary two or more conditions in an experiment, otherwise confusion like “what results from which” will ensue. 3. Every students should be actively involved in manipulating tools, materials and equipment. It is by direct experience through constant practice that they improve on their inquiry skills.
  8. 8. Pointers 4. An observant teacher could easily spot incorrect steps and procedure. Early guidance could avoid mistakes that might douse off their enthusiasm to continue. 5. Improvisations of some needed tools and substitutions for some materials may be encouraged in order to promote resourcefulness and creativity. 6. Orderly distribution and retrieval of laboratory equipment will lessen wastage of time and effort. 7. As they formulate conclusions be sure that they have sufficient evidences to avoid bias and sweeping generalizations.
  9. 9. Sample Lessons Experimenting can be employed in the following lessons and activities: • Relationship between two variables, i.e. between distances and time, force and mass, action and interaction, etc. • Effect of environmental factors on the growth of plants. • Identifying composition of unknown substances. • Factors that favour the growth and development of some favourite animals. • Effect of weather elements on the earth’s topography.