We conducted an experiment to see which material was the most absorbent.
We decided to change the type of material used (the dependent variable) and keep the amount of liquid used, the type of liquid, the surface and the size of the material the same (the independent variables). We measured the time taken for the liquid to be soaked up by the material.
Using the planning sheets prior to the investigation helps focus in on what you are looking for in your experiment. They also ensured that you had a controlled experiment, as it made sure you only changed one variable. This would be particularly helpful for children to begin the process of planning controlled investigations.
We predicted that the thinner materials would soak up the water quicker and the thicker materials would soak up the water slower.
Making predictions helps the children concentrate on the outcome of their experiment. When making conclusions at the end of the experiment, what the children have learned will be clearer as they can compare their understanding to this point in the experiment.
These were our results:
Card – 14.03
Tissue paper – 35.28
Paper Towel – 5.19
Toilet roll – 5.44
Results are the most important part of the investigation. The children learn the skill of recording data, how to interpret it and what that means to the investigation. This is where the relationship between maths and science is exemplified as the children are see the real life applications of the data analysis skills that they learn in maths class, using tables and graphs to display their results.
We found that the thickness of the material did not make the difference, as tissue paper is thin and did not absorb well. The important factor was the surface of the materials, as those which had indentations absorbed better. This is because when flattened out, the surface area would be greater, therefore the material could soak up more water.
Conclusions are where you see what the children have learned. In the case of the above experiment, we learned how absorbent materials such as kitchen roll and toilet paper work – due to the indentations, not the thickness of the material.
The planning sheets we used during this input were incredibly helpful in planning the experiment. They would be excellent to use in a classroom to keep the children on track and to give them a framework for investigation planning, which could be slowly removed to allow for independent work.