Observations vs Experiments
How are we SCIENCE-ING?
Lesson Summary: Comparing different ways that scientists collect data.
Essential Question(s): What is the difference between an experiment and an observational study? Which one are we doing for this Citizen Science project?
Established Goals/Objectives: At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Understand the differences between an observational study and an experiment
Materials: Depending on the experiment chosen, materials will vary. For assessment, you may need poster paper or graphic organizers.
21st Century Skills – Critical Thinking, Collaboration (assigned roles), Technology Literacy
Teacher Background Information: An “experiment” is defined as a test, trial or procedure used to discover something unknown. An “observational study” is a measurement or survey of members of a sample (without trying to affect them). Sometimes, (like in the case of finding what insects are inside the classroom or school), observational studies are the only way researchers can explore certain questions.
Lesson Preparation: Choose an insect related experiment. Some suggestions and links are included below.
- Suggested: Ant Picnic data Collecting Experiment
- Or: Crickets are cheap and readily available from pet stores and are large and easy to keep track of, so would work well in a school setting. I’m thinking something like Part I of the Crickets Light experiment
- Or: For an even lower budget version, the first part of the Cricket Behavior Experiment
Activity/Investigation: After completing the chosen experiment, have students compare the differences between that experiment and collecting images for the Never Home Alone iNaturalist page. Students may work in separate groups to create posters that help define the pros and cons of each method of scientific inquiry. Another idea is for students to create a play that describes how each method worked for enriching their understanding of insects in and around their school.
Assessment: The student product of a posert, graphic organizer or play can act as formative assessments. Also, you may include a personal student reflection on which type of inquiry is used for the Never Home Alone iNaturalist project, and how it differs from other forms of scientific inquiry. This formative assessment may be a note in their science or engineering notebooks or a quick video reflection using a platform like Flipgrid.