Monday, April 29, 2013

5 Step Lesson Plan - Independent Variable

Middle School Standard: Plan an investigation individually and collaboratively, and in the design: identify independent  and dependent variables and controls, what tools are needed to do the gathering, how measurements will be recorded, and how many data are needed to support a claim.

Step 1: QUESTION: What is an independent variable?

Step 2: ANSWER: An independent variable is what the scientist changes in an experiment, to find out which one is the “best”.
Gesture: Point both thumbs towards yourself (for scientist) , use one pointer finger and point out three times out in front of you (for which, is, best).


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Teach-OK to find the independent variable
*Water Temperature
-Briefly explain that you wouldn’t want to add different amounts food coloring AND change the temperature of the water. That would make for an unfair test because you are changing more than one thing at a time. Only one variable should be changed at time. That variable is the independent variable. Teach-OK.

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Teach-OK to find the independent variable
*Strain (medication) given to each mouse
-Briefly explain that the scientist changes the one aspect of the experiment, and then watches and measures what happens. What the scientist changes in each trial is the independent variable. Teach-OK

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Teach OK to find the independent variable
*Type of candy bar
-Briefly explain that the scientist decides how many trials will be carried out in the experiment. The scientist can choose to test 3, 12, or 2000 different candy bars. The independent variable is the type of candy bar. Teach-OK

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Teach OK to find the independent variable
*shooting position
-Briefly explain that when the experiment data is graphed, the independent variable is shown on the x-axis. This is the bottom of the graph, labeling each bar of a bar graph or point of a line graph. Each bar, point, or pie piece represents a change in the independent variable. The data collected, which is another type of variable, depends on the independent variable. Teach-OK

Step 4: TEST: Options: Students put heads down with thumbs up for true or thumbs down for false. Students (heads up) use red/green card: show green side for true and red side for false. Students use SMART Response clickers, or an assessment app like Socrative.
  1. It’s OK to change many things at one time during an experiment. (False)
  2. After the independent variable is changed, the scientist waits and watches to collect data. (True)  
  3. The independent variable is placed on the y-axis of a bar graph. (False)
  4. The independent variable is the only type of variable in an experiment. (False)
  5. A variable is anything that can change. (True)
  6. As the scientists, you decide to change the independent variable. (True)
  7. Data collected during your experiment depends on the independent variable. (True)
  8. A gamer thinks that having the right type of chair will help him get a better score on his video games. He tries out several different chairs, plays each game several times, and records the score he gets each time. The independent variable is the type of chair. (True)
  9. A farmer needs wants to find a new type of seed that will grow well in his field. He has several new seeds that he wants to try out. He plants one row of each type in a field, and measures the growth of each plant for the entire season. The independent variable is the growth of each plant. (False)
  10.  An inventor is trying to figure out how to create a new type of closet organizer that will automatically fold and put away clean laundry in the appropriate place. The inventor tries several different designs, and tests to see how accurately the machine works. The independent variable is the design of the machine. (True)

Show this sentence frame on the board: “ Which type of ______ is ______?” Explain that the first blank is for the independent variable, and the second blank is for what you want that variable to do. Teach OK to explain what each blank is for in the sentence frame.

Some good example could be: “Which type of paper towels is strongest?”, “Which type of chocolate is sweetest?”, “Which type of game controller is the best for getting high scores?”.  

Teach OK and have students complete this sentence frame as many times as possible (orally).

Have each student choose one of their sentences from their Teach OK to use as a topic sentence. The target word of this topic sentence is their independent variable (from the first blank). Students should then add 3 detail adders about this target word.

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