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In this worksheet, students will be able to explore the key considerations when planning an experiment.

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Exam-Style Questions: SATs Science

Curriculum subtopic:   Exam-Style Questions: Planning

Difficulty level:

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to be the next Einstein or Faraday?

At EdPlace we're keen to help you really get to grips with the key skills you need to be a great scientist!

The first skill that you'll need on this journey to greatness is the ability to plan

Heard the old saying... 'failing to plan is planning to fail'?

Well, at EdPlace, we're here to make sure this doesn't happen!

As we work through the next activity, we'll be focusing on improving your planning skills and getting you to really think like a scientist.

This way, when it comes to completing practicals in the classroom they'll go smoothly and for the most part without a bang (although sometimes this is all par for the course!)

There are 6 key steps to planning any science experiment:

1) What are you hoping to find out?  OBJECTIVE

2) What do you think is the reason for what you're seeing? HYPOTHESIS

3) What equipment will you require to find out?

4) What do you think will happen in the experiment? PREDICTION

5) What things do you need to make the same throughout the experiment? VARIABLES

6) How will you make this fair? VALIDITY

Tom has noticed that at different times of the day his shadow is a different size.

What is the first thing he should do if he wants to conduct an experiment on this topic?

Go outside and look for the sun

Think about what he wants to find out and decide upon an objective

Let his teacher know that he has a good idea

Wait until it is dark

What is the formal name for this very first part of the planning process?

Tom needs to create an _ B_ _ _ _ _ _ E before he takes the planning any further.

Can you help Tom to match the keywords with planning to their definitions?

Column B

Hypothesis
What steps will be taken
Objective
The idea that could explain the observations
Variable
Factors that could change
Procedure
What is it you want to investigate?

Tom has an idea as to why his shadow may change in length.

Column B

Hypothesis
What steps will be taken
Objective
The idea that could explain the observations
Variable
Factors that could change
Procedure
What is it you want to investigate?

What things should Tom consider when choosing the equipment to complete his experiment?

If it will make him look professional

If he knows how to use the equipment

How many pieces of equipment he will need

If it is colourful

If it is realistic for him to use this

Finally, here are some suggestions about what you should include when planning your investigations.

Which ones do you think are correct (TRUE) and incorrect (FALSE)?

So, remembering Tom's objective - to find out why his shadow changes length at different times of the day - he's been thinking about what sort of equipment he might need to help him find the answer.

Choose the ones from this list that you think he might need.

Measuring tape

Weighing balance

Chalk

Watch or clock

Thermometer

Measuring jug

Now, remember Tom's still at the planning stage, but he needs to think about what he's actually going to do in his investigation.

Which one of the following do you think makes the most sense if he wants to know about his changing shadow length?

Note his height at 9am, 1pm and 5pm.

Note where the sun is at different times of the day.

See where his shadow is pointing at 8am, 11am and 3pm.

Measure the length of his shadow at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

Again, as part of the planning, Tom has got to decide how he wants to record his data to help him make sense of it.

Which of these would you choose to record your shadow length across the day?

Pie chart

Table

List

Scatter graph

What do you think Tom's going to do now?  Crack straight on with it?

Pie chart

Table

List

Scatter graph

• Question 1

Tom has noticed that at different times of the day his shadow is a different size.

What is the first thing he should do if he wants to conduct an experiment on this topic?

Think about what he wants to find out and decide upon an objective
EDDIE SAYS
The first thing Tom should do is think about why he wants to complete this experiment. What does he want to achieve? Remember that the best scientists do not just throw products into test tubes to see what happens, they are investigating a theory. So, Tom needs an objective before he begins any experimenting.
• Question 2

What is the formal name for this very first part of the planning process?

Tom needs to create an _ B_ _ _ _ _ _ E before he takes the planning any further.

Objective
EDDIE SAYS
Did you remember the key word? Tom needs an OBJECTIVE before he should do anything else. If he is not sure what he wants to find out then the experiment will not be a success!
• Question 3

Can you help Tom to match the keywords with planning to their definitions?

Column B

Hypothesis
The idea that could explain the o...
Objective
What is it you want to investigat...
Variable
Factors that could change
Procedure
What steps will be taken
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? It's always worth knowing the key terms when discussing a topic, and the same goes when you write about planning a scientific experiment.
• Question 4

Tom has an idea as to why his shadow may change in length.

EDDIE SAYS
Did you get the right word? A hypothesis is an idea that you have that could explain why you see what you see. Remember to use that key terminology where ever possible - it will impress those around you including your teachers!
• Question 5

What things should Tom consider when choosing the equipment to complete his experiment?

If he knows how to use the equipment
How many pieces of equipment he will need
If it is realistic for him to use this
EDDIE SAYS
Choosing the right equipment to use is vital! After all, if you want to find out the perfect length of time to boil and egg, a ruler is useless for measuring that sort of length! Thinking things through carefully before you start saves a lot of wasted time and irritation!
• Question 6

Finally, here are some suggestions about what you should include when planning your investigations.

Which ones do you think are correct (TRUE) and incorrect (FALSE)?

EDDIE SAYS
How are you feeling about planning? A bit more confident? Remember in these activities we are practising the skills to be a good scientist, and planning is where it starts. When you're ready, let's see what other skills you can improve!
• Question 7

So, remembering Tom's objective - to find out why his shadow changes length at different times of the day - he's been thinking about what sort of equipment he might need to help him find the answer.

Choose the ones from this list that you think he might need.

Measuring tape
Chalk
Watch or clock
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on with that? If you've thought like Tom, you would probably realise that you need some sort of clock, so that you know what time of day it is when you're measuring your shadow. The chalk would help mark the ground (start point/length of shadow) and some sort of ruler or measuring tape is vital.
• Question 8

Now, remember Tom's still at the planning stage, but he needs to think about what he's actually going to do in his investigation.

Which one of the following do you think makes the most sense if he wants to know about his changing shadow length?

Measure the length of his shadow at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.
EDDIE SAYS
To answer this question like Tom you must be clear in your mind about what it is you're trying to find out. Tom has observed that his shadow is a different length at different times of the day. In order to test his hypothesis, he needs data. So, if he measures the length of his shadow at 4-5 different times during the day, he can relate his measurements to where the sun is in the sky at those times.
• Question 9

Again, as part of the planning, Tom has got to decide how he wants to record his data to help him make sense of it.

Which of these would you choose to record your shadow length across the day?

Table
EDDIE SAYS
Probably the easiest way for Tom to set out his data in a way that helps him to see what's going on, is to set it out in a table. Something like time of day along the top (columns) and length of shadow down the side (rows) should make it pretty clear.
• Question 10

What do you think Tom's going to do now?  Crack straight on with it?

EDDIE SAYS
If you leave a biscuit on the floor, near to your dog, what do you think will happen? That's a prediction! Tom will do the same: having decided on how to test his hypothesis about time of day and length of shadow, he's going to decide what he's expecting to see - he's made a prediction. Of course, things may work out differently - that's when you find out more than you thought you knew!