As school has gotten under way, I've tried to put an emphasis in my courses on how to perform labs, analyze the data, and how to look at varied ways to perform the experiment. As a class, we have spent a lot of time looking at the varied factors in performing an experiment which can limit the precision of the results. These factors include procedural limitations, equipment limitations and human limitations.
We have then delved into various ways that each of these limitations can be reduced in sinificance by makig changes to the equipment and procedures used. We have also looked into various statistical techniques which can be utilized to minimize the effects of outlier results.
At this point, we are getting ready for two major uses of this information. The first is that the students will be asked to redesign and redo an experiment to improve on the results that they got the first time that they did the experiment. They can redo the experiment using any equipment and techniques that we have.
The second exercise will be for each student to develop and test a device to protect a raw egg from breaking after it has dropped ten meters to the ground. Students will have to redesign their project until it is successful. Then, they will have to write a design paper detailing what their design is and what the unrlining physics principals are which explain how their design works. This analysis will include reference to such areas as Newton's laws of motion, kinematics, Hooke's Law, Impulse-Momentum relationship, Momentum conservation, Work, and/or Energy Conservation.
Through this process, students should learn how to work in a research environment. They will learn how to revise lab procedures based upon their analysis of past results. They will also become more familar with utilizing the scientific method in a real setting.