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Scientific Method and Graphing

Subject Area: Science

Grade Level(s): 7

Duration of Activity: 2 class periods

Description of Activity: Students will use the scientific method to determine how many seeds are in a watermelon.

Throughout the experiment, students will complete answers to the Handout 1: Lab Report sheet.

After all classes have completed the lab, students will use Microsoft Excel to create a graph of the combined results.

Objectives:

  • Students will use the scientific method to determine how many seeds are in a watermelon.
  • Students will estimate how many seeds are in a watermelon.
  • Students will write a formal hypothesis regarding their estimation of the number of seeds in a watermelon.
  • Students will determine experimentally how many seeds are in a watermelon.
  • Students will record results on a Handout 1: Lab Report.
  • Students will create a bar graph on Microsoft Excel (or other appropriate software).
  • Students will use a floppy disk to save work and/or print the graphs.

Materials/Equipment:

Day 1

  • Newspapers
  • Paper towels
  • Handout 1: Lab Report
  • Spoons (1 per student)
  • Watermelon (1 per class)

Day 2

  • Computer
  • Microsoft Excel or Lotus (or other appropriate software)
  • Floppy disk (per student or team) or printer
  • Handout 1: Lab Report ( completed )
  • Handout 2: Steps of the Scientific Method
  • Handout 3: Microsoft Excel Worksheet
  • Handout 4: Microsoft Excel Checklist

Prerequisites (skills or background needed):

  • Students will need knowledge of the Handout 2: Steps of the Scientific Method and their meanings.

  • Teachers will need basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel (cells, rows, creating charts).

  • Students should be able to save work onto floppy disk and/or print work when finished.

Procedure

Teacher Component:

Day 1

  1. Teacher will need to have completed a lesson on the Handout 2: Steps of the Scientific Method and their meanings. While students are completing steps 1 and 2 of Handout 1: Lab Report sheet, divide the watermelon equally among the students. Before completing step 3, allow students to briefly view the sliced watermelon.
  2. The teacher should guide students in writing a scientific problem (step 1) and an "IFTHEN..." hypothesis (step 3). This can easily be done with the class as a whole while dividing the watermelon.
  3. After all students have finished step 3, distribute one slice of watermelon per student. Instruct students to count only the black watermelon seeds. Allow students to eat the watermelon as they count.
  4. Ask each student to record the final number of seeds in their slice on the board as they finish counting.
  5. When all seeds have been counted, lead class in tallying all seeds. Use calculators if possible.
  6. Give instructions to class for clean up procedures.

Day 2

  1. Teacher will lead class in creating a bar graph using Microsoft Excel.
  2. Teacher will have a list of the results of the lab from all classes so that students can record the final results on the lab report sheets.

Student Activities:

Day 1

  1. Students will use the Handout 2: Steps of the Scientific Method to determine how many seeds are in a watermelon. Students will work on completing the lab report sheet throughout the experiment.
  2. Following steps on the Handout 1: Lab Report sheets, students will need to state a problem and define the words guess and estimate.
  3. After the research has been completed, students should view the sliced watermelon and estimate the number of seeds in the watermelon. Students should only be allowed a brief glance at the watermelon.
  4. After estimating, students will write a hypothesis about the experiment. This hypothesis should relate to the problem in step 1 on the lab report sheet.
  5. After the hypothesis has been written, students should take a slice of watermelon and remove all black seeds. Students may eat the experiment as they go. Students should count the number of seeds either as they go, or when all seeds have been removed.
  6. After all seeds have been counted, students should record their final count as step number 5 on lab report sheet.
  7. While others are finishing, students should clean lab area according to the instructions of the teacher.
  8. To complete the experiment, students will tally all seeds and complete step 6 of the lab report.

Day 2

  1. Students should record the final results of the labs on the lab report sheets.
  2. Using Microsoft Excel, students will create a bar graph of the results. Teachers can give the students the Handout 3: Microsoft Excel Worksheets, or create one of his/her own. There are many more details that can be included at the teacher's discretion.

Accommodations:

  • Pair students based on computer experience.
  • Have students who are experienced Microsoft Excel users work with more than one group to help with instruction.
  • To keep activity simple, have students create the same type of bar graph, or to make more challenging, allow students to choose which type of graph to create. Microsoft Excel gives several choices of each type of graph.
  • Use a projector and screen, if available, and create graph step by step with the class to make instruction more efficient.
  • If printers and floppy disks are unavailable, obtain permission, if necessary, to save temporarily to hard drive until assessment can be made.

Extension Activities:

  • Have students write questions about the graphs. Swap papers or computer screens and allow students to interpret each other's work.
  • Allow students to graph results from other labs throughout the year. As students become more experienced, graphs can become more detailed and more creative.
  • Have students create more than one type of graph for a lab. Discuss which graph showed results most accurately.
  • If possible, print graphs (or one graph) and return to students the next day. Have students label the parts of the graph for review.
  • Compare different types of watermelons to see which type has more seeds

Integration:

  • Math
  • Technology

Assessments:

  1. Day 1
    Completed Handout 1: Lab Report sheet and teacher observation
  2. Day 2
    Completed Graph and teacher observation
  3. As an alternative if floppy disks are not available and/or if saving on hard drive is not possible, a Handout 4: Microsoft Excel Checklist can be used.

URLs:

This Web site contains several ideas in which the students can test consumer products using the scientific method. When the experiments are finished, students can graph the results!

Curriculum Frameworks

Mississippi:

Note: This lesson is aligned to Mississippi Curriculum Frameworks Science Standards that were written prior to 2001.

Seventh Grade

  1. Apply safety rules in the classroom.

    1. Keep laboratory neat and clean.
  2. Integrate computers, calculators, and multi-media technology into classroom activities.

    1. Computers will be used to enhance classroom instruction.
    2. Computers will be used to gather, access, and graph data.
  3. Apply the components of scientific processes and methods.

    1. Identify the appropriate questions for a scientific investigation.
    2. Construct charts and graphs to analyze and interpret data from student investigations.
  4. Communicate results of scientific investigations in oral, written, and graphic form.

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS):

  1. Use content specific-tools, software, and simulations to support learning and research. (3, 5)
  2. Apply productivity/multimedia tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, group collaboration, and learning throughout the curriculum. (3, 6)

TerraNova:

19 Science Inquiry (Level 11-21/22)
Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental concepts of science inquiry. Demonstrate the ability to perform science inquiry.

Through text, diagrams, and drawings, provide explanations of investigations, analyze investigations, and communicate results.

Link and Feedback to Author(s):

Misty Little, Tupelo Middle School, Tupelo, MS
littmm@tupelo.k12.ms.us

Handout 1:
Lab Report
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Handout 2:
Steps of the Scientific Method
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Handout 3:
Microsoft Excel Worksheet
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Handout 4:
Microsoft Excel Checklist
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