Cool School Survey
Kids running all over the school looking like sort of scientists with clipboards, data tables and thermometers hopefully not too closely clutched in their hot little hands (because that would affect the data…) It’s a bit scary because what if they annoy my colleagues, interrupting class, waving at their friends and well, seriously if that’s the worst that can happen, it’s okay (for me obvs., and thank you to my incredibly tolerant fellow teachers!) We did talk about professional behavior and that the project would be cancelled if they were disruptive.
The lead-in had them color in their predictions for the hottest and coolest classrooms on the evacuation map of the school, and sharing what they think will affect the amount of heat in the classrooms. That was the basis of making a data table.
Here’s how we tried to calibrate our thermometers which had a +/- of 3 deg F. Pretty huge. Even with the relatively expensive thermometers.
And here’s how I tried to organize their results. After a couple of confusing false starts involving a fair amount of ‘sit down and be quiet! Stop fiddling with that! The pic below shows how desperate is the need to fiddle – each mini skateboard had been confiscated by a teacher and still he goes on 🙂 I have to laugh, I so get it when trapped in professional development.
And then I had them tour each of the other classes’ data to see what they noticed. That was really interesting because in the morass are some genuine insights into both the effectiveness of passive cooling strategies and errors.
Time for ‘Real Results Bingo’ – read out the classroom numbers of especially cool rooms and they marked them on a school diagram. They looked for the school on Google Earth to see both the orientation of windows and which classrooms were next to blacktop and grassy areas. Kids who surveyed the coolest classrooms go together and tried to find other commonalities. North facing, grass outside, shading were all correlated with cooler classrooms. Oh and central A/C in a few lucky classrooms. Which would require a bond measure it will be that expensive to install.
Here’s a link to the specifics in the lesson plan if you want it.
Noticing patterns in data is a story – the initial ‘set’ is the experimental question. The data has hidden in it the resolution, at least partially. Like a joke with a set, an expected outcome and the sudden switch to something that is incongruous and yet makes sense. Unexpected truth looked at in a different way: why scientists are so fascinated is at least in a way, similar to reading a compelling and complex story that in science, never really ends.
Entry filed under: Class Management, Cool the School Project, Critical Thinking, Data Analysis, Experimental Method, Physics Topics, Project Based Learning. Tags: middle school science, middle school science project, nature of science, OIS, PBL, project-based learning.