When I student taught at Banana Kelly High School, the 9th grade math and science teachers there used a wonderful curriculum called Thinking Math and Science, which they had been developing for about 10 years. Those classes were integrated with math and science together, and so very often the classes were doing labs. But the labs weren’t just science, they just as often had math labs. And I wanted to bring that idea into my own classroom.
I had decided last year that I wanted to introduce new topics with labs, so the students could explore an idea before getting the mathematical language that does with it. When I sat down over the summer with my co-teacher Sarah, we created a template for our math lab reports, taking the steps of the scientific method and putting a mathematical twist on it. Here’s an example of it, using the first lab we did, Pythagorean Theorem in 3D.
The beginning is much the same, asking the driving question that we want to answer. Then, instead of background research, since I want to work with a low barrier of entry and move up, we have “What do you notice?” (thanks @maxmathforum).
The next step is to construct a hypothesis. This is often still relevant with math, of course, and may go unchanged for some labs. But I thought another way we could look at a hypothesis is an estimate, since both are educated guesses, right? I set it up using Dan Meyer’s suggestion of “too low, too high, actual guess,” which gives us nice bounds, and I think this does it visually as well. Although not completely, since some students haven’t gotten it, so I wonder if I can improve on that. (I have two versions in the file: the arrow one is the one I used, and the dotted line one is a new idea I have, I’ll try it soon.)
Then we do our calculations, which is our experiment, they go hand in hand. And finally we analyze what we did with discussion questions.
I’m don’t think the format/template is perfect, but I think it’s a start.