Planning open investigations in science - Solution

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It is often quite challenging to get students to come up with their own questions for investigation. One useful strategy it to get students to brainstorm as many ideas of topics as possible. You can ask questions to prompt, clarify and expand the student ideas. The process of linking the ideas through a mindmap can also help to provide students with inspiration. Next you need to get students to generate questions, and if working in a group, to negotiate a final decision on a question to be investigated. The questions should be about exploring the relationship between two variables. They could be re-worded to the form: Does ...... influence ....? At some point the questions must be analysed. Do they meet the criteria of being practically possible in the classroom within the timeframe, have student ownership and do not merely verify what students already know? Is it possible to develop a fair test in which only one variable is changed, another variable is measured and the rest of the variables are held constant as controls? Our goal is for students to have concrete experience of science concepts to build on their understanding of both scientific processes and ideas. A question that prompts an investigation that is easily controlled but does not further understanding may be less valuable than one that leads to a critical analysis of the processes but is underpinned by significant scientific ideas.


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