Investigating the Scientific Method: A Better Black Box


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Arbor Scientific Car and Ramp Lab

Students are more than capable of discerning the Scientific Method without the restrictions of rote memory. This kit has a unique low-tech approach that allows students to leave thieir first day of class with the memorable experience of creating a model to explain their hypothesis. Watch as your students’ familiarity with the “methods of science” grows into understanding of how practical scientific inquiry works. Setting up the activity is straightforward—just place one steel ball into each of the 24 black-box “Ob-Scertainers” and snap them shut. To keep prying eyes from making direct observations, it may be a good idea to use a couple pieces of tape to “seal” the lid shut. The Teacher’s Guide includes a diagram of each of the 12 patterns which correspond to identifying numbers imprinted on the back of each Ob-Scertainer.

Each student should test at least four Ob-Scertainers to develop their methods of testing across several applications. At the end of the class period, when all the students are scratching their heads, some teachers might elect to reveal the patterns so students can gauge how close their models came. However, many teachers prefer not to show the patterns at all and leave their students guessing! They might give their students some relief at the end of the year, but it can be a rude awakening to the reality of science. There’s no answer key!

Fun Fact: Ob-Scertainer stands for “To Observe and Ascertain".


Aaron Debbink

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