FASTLY - Faith & Science Teaching

Part 2: Models & Methods of Investigation


2. Models

Academic Lab

This lesson gives students the experience of an academic lab.

For our purposes, an academic lab is one that is structured as a school activity, rather than a strict scientific investigation. Further on, we will create a contrast between academic labs and scientific inquiry. At this stage, it is important for the activity to feel like an academic lab. You do not have to let students know that the “science” you are about to do is not real scientific inquiry.

You can choose any topic from your own science materials to design a lab that focuses heavily on finding a series of right answers in order to complete a worksheet. Essentially, students should be confirming programmed results—answers should be predetermined, without relying on a process of discovery.

Teachers in the pilot school developed this example.

Once you’ve structured your own lab, you can gather the supplies. During the class session, you can give students the instructions and supplies they require to conduct the lab. Once they have finished, ask them to share their results with the class.

After the reporting of results, you can assign students the “Density Lab” prompt from the Models and Methods Journal Prompts, which asks students to reflect on which part of the density lab most caused them to stand in awe or wonder. Given the nature of the assignment, it is probable that they will struggle to find something awe-inspiring in the process. At this point, leave them to sit with this struggle.

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Scientific Inquiry