FOSS Variables FOSS Lifeboat Investigation: Developing Investigable Question, Investigation (Experimentation), and Communicating Results
This activity is an extension of the FOSS Variables Lifeboat investigation. Prior to this activity, students have tested how many passengers a "standard" 3 cm boat can hold, found the boats' capacity in milliliters, and discussed variables that might affect how many passengers a boat can hold. In this activity students choose a lifeboats variable to investigate, write up an experiment based on the variable they have chosen, and then test the variable. Upon completion of their experiment; students will create a lifeboats investigation poster (one per group) and share their results.
"A variable is anything that you can change in an experiment that might affect the outcome." (FOSS, Lifeboats, p.1)
"Graphical display of quantities may make it possible to spot patterns that are not otherwise obvious, such as cycles and trends." (Project 2061, p.97, 9C/E3)
Vocabulary: Variable, Investigative question, Capacity, Standard
Context for Use
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)
Description and Teaching Materials
- Students build 3 cm boats and explore how many passengers (pennies) their boat can hold before it sinks
- Report results
- Identify variables (boat size, distribution, placement, condition of the sea)
- Find boat capacity
- Discuss "standard lifeboat"
Part 2: Lifeboat Investigation Planning (Extension...not in FOSS unit)
Students choose a variable to explore (boat size, distribution, placement, condition of the sea...)
Break (Teacher groups students based on their variable. Ideally 4 students per group)
Students meet in new group and write an investigative question based on the variable they wish to explore. Teacher must approve all investigative questions.
Student's record materials needed for their investigation in their science journals. Students may bring materials from home for their investigation. Students complete a Materials Request sheet for materials needed from the teacher.
Students write up investigation procedure in their science journals.
Part 3: Conduct Lifeboat Investigation
Students test their lifeboats (minimum of 3 tests) and record results in their science journals. Students should record their investigative question, procedure, data, conclusion, and a reflection. Students may also include notes, drawings, and tables, and questions.
Each group creates a poster that will be used to present lifeboat investigative findings.
Students communicate results of investigation in the form of a "poster session." Posters must include:
- Lifeboats investigable question
- Description of procedure
- Data (graph, table, picture...)
- Questions remaining
Teaching Notes and Tips
1. Students choose a variable to explore, rather than all students exploring boat size.
2. Science groups will be reconfigured during this investigation based on investigative questions. In the past, groups have stayed the same throughout the entire variables unit.
3. Students will write an investigative question based on the variable they wish to explore.
4. Students may bring materials from home for their investigation if needed.
5. Students will present investigative finding on a poster.
6. Students will communicate results of investigation in the form of a "poster session."
5.I.A.2—Clear communication of methods...
5.I.B.1—Perform a controlled experiment...
5.I.B.2—Observe that when a science investigation is repeated...