A memorable historic event occurred when I was about 11 years old. Somebody who claimed to be an experienced gardener advised me to scratch the seed coats of seeds before planting them "so they will germinate sooner;" which I admit does not sound particularly memorable. However, my reaction to the information was to design my first formal Science Experiment; which is supposed to sound particularly memorable. In case you are wondering what makes this sound memorable, it supports my contention that 5th grade students are still practicing scientists if they are allowed to continue to do science.
Without questioning the truth of the gardener's claim, I decided to test whether or not completely peeling the seed coat off the seed would speed up its germination, as a Science Fair project. After an extensive review of both books on gardening in my school library, I was able to confirm that this experiment had never been done before. I designed the experiment described below at the age of about 11 years, so I believe the experiment to be suitable for grade 5 to 8. As I was running the experiment, I learned that formal science experiments tend to produce not only answers to the questions asked, but also to suggest additional experiments. The additional experiments distracted me from the initial goal of winning the Science Fair [remember this experiment had never even occurred to anyone before me, according to my pre-adolescent mind], so I never made the poster, did not exhibit the experiment, did not win the Nobel Prize [nor the Science Fair], did not become rich or famous... Much later, after I wrote a description of the experiment for my Biology for Teachers class, the experiment apparently occurred to someone else, because I saw it exhibited at a Science Fair by a student in 5th grade where my team [I was the coach] of High School-aged Science Fair Judges gave it a Blue Ribbon, or 2nd place (as did the volunteer adult Judges at the same Fair).
Written just like a recipe, in sufficient detail that anyone should be able to duplicate your experiment.
Depending on the age of your students, this may include descriptions, drawings, numbers and graphs, ...
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© 2004 TwoOldGuys