Consumer Testing and the Scientific Method
This activity is an introduction using the scientific method. It can be used at any grade level 6-12. Using paper towels I introduce a basic approach to determine which type of paper towel is the most absorbent. Students then use the scientific method to evaluate another property of the paper towel e.g., Rate of absorbency, ability to use a wet paper towel, strength of paper towel etc.
Students will identify qualitative versus quantitative observations.
Students will identify variables and difference between independent, dependent, and control.
Vocabulary words: scientific method, absorbency, qualitative, quantitative, independent variable, dependent variable, control, hypothesis, purpose
Context for Use
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: Middle (6-8), High School (9-12)
Description and Teaching Materials
Introduction: New! Improved! Brand X performs better than Brand Y. These are claims advertising uses to push their product ahead of another product. Is one product better than another? When a formula is changed is it better, more improved? How can we find out? The scientific method is a process used to test and evaluate. In today's lab we are going to use the scientific method to determine which brand of paper towel is the most absorbent.
Problem: How much water will be soaked up with 1 piece of paper towel?
Hypothesis: If one piece of paper towel is used, then _________________
Materials: paper towel, stop watch, water, graduated cylinder, tongs, ruler, scissors
Procedure: Part 1
1. Measure and cut out a 6 cm X 6 cm square of paper towel.
2. Place inside the pan.
3. Measure 10 mL of water in the graduated cylinder.
4. Pour the water on top of the paper towel inside the pan.
5. After 60 seconds (1 minute) pick up the paper towel using the tongs.
6. Let the water drip from the paper towel until the drops are 5 seconds apart.
7. Pour the excess water in the pan back into the graduated cylinder. Dry the pan out.
8. Write the amount of water absorbed in the data table (don't forget units).
9. Repeat with the other brands of paper towel.
Paper Towel Water absorbed
1. What is the independent variable in this experiment
2. What is the dependent variable in this experiment?
3. List 3 controls from the experiment.
4. Did you have any qualitative observations? If so, what were they?
5. Identify one quantitative observation you made in this experiment.
Procedure: part 2
1. Write up a problem/purpose to be tested and show to your teacher.
2. When your teacher approves the purpose write out your hypothesis.
3. Determine your materials and procedure.
4. Teacher accepts materials and procedure.
5. Begin testing following your procedure.
6. Clean up lab area.
7. Write 2 paragraphs indicating what you learned from part 2 and in your own words what the scientific method is.
Teaching Notes and Tips
See lab in activity description.