#modphys 17/180: Loading a Spring

I’ve been working with my grade 6 class on the design of science experiments. The goal is that they can state a research question, choose appropriate independent/dependent variables, and outline a procedure. This is a challenging task for students of this developmental level — in Piagetian terms, they are sliding into the formal operational stage. Designing an experiment like this is heavy on abstract thought, so plenty of scaffolding is needed.

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Today, I had the students do a straightforward lab: loading mass onto a spring and measuring the length of the spring. By the end of the class, each student was able to articulate something like, “adding more mass makes the spring stretch more.”

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However, the underlying goal is to get the students to work with independent and dependent variables directly, and to record their data onto a neat table. This experiment, as well as the water absorbency of soil lab we’ll do on Friday, will provide fodder for discussion next week.

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