What’s great about this experiment is:
- Students don’t need to buy any supplies. They can choose an experiment based on what they have at home (great for distance learning!)
- Students are allowed voice and choice.
- You can assess which students are able to design and conduct a controlled experiment.
Possible experiments could include:
- Which brand of paper towels is most absorbent?
- Which brand of chewing gum has the longest lasting flavor?
- Which type of grocery bag can hold the most weight?
- Which type of glue is the strongest?
- Which type of cup keeps my drink cold the longest?
- Which type of bread molds the fastest?
- Which type of packaging supply- bubble wrap or packaging peanuts- best protects the contents of my package?
- Is SPF 50 really stronger than SPF 30?
- Which brand of soda has the most carbonation?
- Which brand of nail polish chips first?
- Which brand of popcorn has the least amount of unpopped kernels?
- Which brand of soap produces the largest bubbles?
- Which brand of candle burns the longest?
- Which type of clothes material dries the fastest?
- Which brand of cereal stays crunchy the longest in milk?
- Which brand of chips has the most air space inside?
- Which brand of bandage sticks the longest?
- Are ziplocks more leak-proof than store brand bags?
- Which brand of stain remover works the best at removing stains?
- Which brand of cleaner is better at cutting through grease?
- What is the most effective way to ripen fruit?
- Or, have students choose their own experiment but get teacher approval before beginning.
Prior to “setting students loose” with the task, I would remind them to only choose ONE variable, and review what a controlled experiment is. For example, if they choose to test paper towel absorbency, they need to make sure the two paper towels are the same size. Also discuss the need for multiple trials to get accurate data.
- You can have students record their experiment results and submit the video- flipgrid is a great option for this.
- You can have students fill out a CER chart (highly recommend!)
- You can have students write up a formal lab report (although I wouldn’t choose this option if you are just kicking off the school year).
Inevitably you will have students that changed more than one variable, didn’t have a control, made measuring errors, etc. You can always give them feedback and request the repeat the experiment with needed improvements. This is a great learning opportunity for them, and they will understand that the nature of science is to always go back to the drawing board and improve on prior experiments.
Have any other consumer science labs you love to do with students? Leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!