Because we’re getting ready to roll out our new package of middle school science projects, I’ve been looking all over for good kids’ science experiments. Trust me, true experiments are not easy to find! It amazes me that reputable science publications will label any sort of science activity as an experiment. An experiment is a test of the relationship between two variables that have measurable results that can be replicated.
Here are some things I’ve found that are great science fair topics, but simply are not science experiments:
~ Making a Potato Canon – This is a fun activity, and it demonstrates how cool science can be, but it doesn’t tst anything. How can you turn it into an experiment? Vary the trajectory, and ask, “At which angle will a potato canon launch a potato the farthest?”
~ What happens when seeds germinate?” – This is listed as an experiment on a teachers’ forum. Can’t believe it. It’s a great lesson, but what are kids comparing here?! Turn it into an experiment by testing “At which temperature do seeds germinate the best?”
~ How do bones change when soaked in vinegar? – This is close to an experiment, but the project I saw didn’t have a way to measure the change. The results of a true experiment must be measurable. If your kids come up with a weigh to measure the amount of weight the bones can support before breaking – you may just have a winning kids science experiment.
That gives me a great idea for another science project experiment, actually…Stay tuned!
P.S. ALL of the projects at 24 Hour Science Projects are experiment based – Hypothesis, Variables, Measurable Results and all!