Last week, Hayden Hall was transformed into a shrine to the scientific method. Atop tables lining the walls, each Junior High student displayed a tri-fold presentation board decorated with photos, charts, and research detailing their first forays into formal experimentation.
“I wanted to know if gummy bears would grow if I submerged them in water and if color would affect how big they got,” said the seventh grader. “They did grow, but all the colors grew the same amount.”
Each Junior High student was given a step-by-step set of directions to assist them with their project; these directions are also sent to parents via the JH Update. Students had five weeks to complete the work.
“Teachers explain the instructions and discuss possible topics for students to consider in class,” said Head of Junior High Maureen Zane. “Students are given the opportunity to be responsible for their own learning by researching topics for their project, making a decision of what project will interest them, and then actually employing the scientific method to accomplish the task of producing a project.”
The basic steps of the project are:
- ask a question;
- hypothesize the outcome;
- gather materials needed to work on the project;
- create a procedure of steps to produce the project;
- record information or data;
- reach a conclusion, proving if the hypothesis was accurate or not and why.
“I wanted to see if weight would affect the rate at which an object dropped,” said an eighth grader. “Compared to my experiment last year, I would say this one was simpler. There were fewer variables. I wanted to really see what was affecting the change in results.”
Unlike most of the tasks Junior High students are assigned, a majority of this project is completed at home.
“Being responsible for a significant assignment such as a science fair project demands executive functioning skills, ” said Maureen. “The variety of topics is also a reason students work on this assignment at home. There, they have the time, space, and support of their parents to maneuver through the scientific method as they complete the needed steps to produce their project.”
Students also receive support from their teachers during the course of the assignment.
“We use class time to share topics and the progress towards finishing their projects to help support students as they work on this long-term assignment,” said Maureen. “Each teacher is available to answer questions in regard to this homework assignment as well.”
Aside from the basic goal that students become more familiar with the scientific method, Maureen says there are multiple other advantages to the project.
“Students are able to integrate executive functioning, active learning, organizational skills, logical thinking, and a sense of pride for accomplishing the task,” she said.
Click here to learn more about our Junior High program.