Using a Sibling Sense of Fairness for Science
Conclusions have always been a boring minefield. What did you find out? How sure are you? And kids always say either ‘very sure (because can’t be bothered to think too hard and don’t want to admit to playing with their cell phones under the desk the whole period) or some kind of pat answer like ‘we could have made sure to time it better’. But most really don’t get that analyzing an experiment for uncontrolled variables is an application of the sibling rivalry keen “It’s not fair!” And it’s usually not. Remember when you got to stay up later than I ever did at your age, Diana? Let’s not get into who sits by the window on car trips…
So Dr. Stupid came in today to drop rulers through children’s hands to find the effect of light level on reaction times as a practice run to remind students how to identify the experimental and responding variables, and how to spot the unfairness aka the uncontrolled variables and other bad practice. Then I assessed them on “Who has faster reaction times – boys or girls?” using the “A Grading Policy”. And that’s working out okay too – I get a quick snapshot of who gets it without getting mired in a point for this and not for that tedium. The repairs and redos will be on Monday after coaching while the kids who pass do science news activity.
At the end, they wrote “The ice cube experiment we did was unfair because….”
Seriously better than previous years. Really cool to point out how naturally they are scientists. And much more fun, especially sharing unfair sibling stories, some of which are at least perceived as wildly unfair. Justice: let’s play that forward too.