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Learning through Experiments

The Role of Experiments in Science Education

Sciences Before discussing the role of experiments in science education we find it advisable to consider the experimental nature of science(s) and how scientists study nature empirically or experimentally. The role of experiments in scientific research can be derived from the epistemological nature of science and this discussion has long historical roots. Already the famous medieval philosopher and scientist Roger Bacon wrote: I wish now to review the principles of wisdom from the point of view of experimental science, because without experiment it is impossible to know anything thoroughly. Another major advance in the history of experimental sciences was due to Galileo Galilei (1564 1642), an Italian scientist who formulated the basic law of falling bodies, which he verified by careful experiments. Altogether, there is a centuries old tradition of scientific enquiry which has developed a well-established scientific method followed by all serious scientists. Here experiments are in crucial role: we may say that the criterion of truth in science lies with the nature itself and the answers to our questions we get through carefully planned experiments. However, one has to note that different sciences have here rather distinctive profiles. The exact sciences, like physics and chemistry, use experimental forms of the scientific method. These sciences are based on experiments gathering numerical data from which researchers derive relationships and make conclusions. The more descriptive sciences, like biological sciences zoology and anthropology, have mainly used a form of the method that involves gathering of information by visual observation or interviewing. However, even here the present trend is towards more experimentation. What is common in the inquiry process of all sciences is the making of hypotheses to explain observations, the gathering of data, and the drawing of conclusions that confirm or deny the original hypothesis on the basis of these data. The difference is in what is considered as data, and how data are gathered and processed. Furthermore, in exploratory research there is a strong emphasis in ideation and creative problem solving, which are not usually registered as parts of the scientific enquiry process. On the other hand, in several branches of experimental sciences the construction of experimental setups may take years and highlight the true nature of sciences. Another important feature of modern scientific research is that it is team work often with large heterogeneous teams of experts in various specialties. Parallel to experimental research is the development of theory. Theory means a network of carefully defined concepts and their relations. The advancement of sciences is through the interplay within the circle from experiments to theory through inductive research and from theory to experiments through deductive research. One may also observe the interaction of sciences and applied technological research (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The advancement of science through interaction of experimental and theoretical research. e.g. mod. Lavonen 1996, s. 35 / Bunge, 1983 Data in exact sciences are numbers, which can be visualised by plotting them on graphs and disclosing systematic trends by curve fitting. In this way equations can be derived and used for making predictions (hypotheses), which again can be experimented by experiments. Data, for an anthropologist, could be a recorded interview on observed natural phenomena. Information obtained by interviewing can be compared to other related data. Here is the distinction between the exact sciences using measurements to obtain numerical data and calculate results with estimated accuracy and systematic evaluation of error possibilities, versus empirical sciences which use observations, experiences, descriptions thereof, and inferences thereupon to arrive at results. Exact sciences are often considered as basic sciences meaning that the core knowledge and their experimental method of information acquisition are more and more used in other sciences and in technology. On the other hand, experimental sciences are very much dependent on technological advances in the development of experimental systems. Experiments in Science Education There is already a tradition of empirical research even in the field of science education although it is far younger than in natural sciences. There is no well-established general theory in the education comparable to what is available in natural sciences and the organising of empirical research is often very difficult with most limited resources and diffuse setups. However, we may start our discussion with the reference to the cybernetic model of teaching and learning presented at another module designed by ours available at http://cc-crie.dte.ua.pt/moodle/mod/resource/view.php?id=9299 .

Figure 2. The cybernetic model of teaching is used to visualize the teaching-studyinglearning process (cf. Millar, 2004). In the first place, we may not expect that the most important goal of the experiments in science education would be learning of factual information. On the other hand, there are some issues, which are most naturally approached by experimenting, like the general goal of understanding the epistemological nature of sciences referred to above. Thus the starting point of our analysis of the role of experiments may be the goals and expected outcomes of learning. Meisalo, Ertuuli and Capaccio (1990) gave a concise theoretical analysis of the aims and goals of science education as observed especially in the context of experimental work. They identified four relevant categories: - Practical skills - General work habits - Observation of laboratory safety - Quality of experimental results. We modify here the list of more detailed objectives (and expected learning outcomes) they presented as the result of their further analysis to include more openly e.g. the skills needed with modern computer technologies: A. Practical skills : 1. To be able to design an experimental setup or modify if needed the given one for the research plan. 2. To show relevant manipulative skills including handling of laboratory equipment (and computer technology when working in a microcomputer-based laboratory) when implementing the plan 3. To evaluate the functionality of the apparatus and appreciate its precision 4. To obtain experimental/observation data within the expected range and in reasonable time 5. To be able to perform a controlled experiment/observations 6. To perform pilot and control experiments when advisable. B. General work habits

7. To work effectively and maintain constant attention 8. To be ready and willing to team work: set goals/objectives together with other students, plan experiments, to agree on tasks and the allocation of tasks and to give feedback and scaffolding 9. To have initiative and readiness for ideation and creative problem solving 10. To take responsibility and to be able to work independently, when needed 11. To be willing to help in general running of the laboratory 12. To be motivated and have perseverance in reaching for the set goals C. Observation of laboratory safety 13. To work safely, to follow safety instructions 14 To perform the experiments neatly and correctly 15. To observe the safety of peers. 16. To suggest improvements to safety instructions, when needed D. Quality of experimental results. 17. To understand the meaning of the results and to interpret the data in the light of theory 18. To understand and report the meaningfulness, accuracy and reliability of the results 19. To search for additional information in literature/Internet and compare own research outcomes with those of previous research. 20. To report the experiment, the results and interpretations with numerical tables, graphical visualizations etc. considering also relevant technological and other applications. Experiments in school practice In school practice the experimental nature of sciences appears most commonly in three distinctive forms: 1) Teacher-led demonstrations, 2) student practical work individually or in pairs, and 3) more extensive projects in larger teams. Experimental work is possible with proper equipment even in a standard school classroom, but specially equipped school laboratories or excursions and visits to open nature, museums, and industries etc. offer far wider possibilities. In this context, the general goals of school education may be most relevant, but their relation to everyday school practice is far from obvious. For instance, the Finnish school curricula emphasise the scaffolding of student learning as well as the positive development of the whole student personality. There are several items in the above list of goals, which can be interpreted as promoting these general goals, but often other reasons like the evaluation system in schools emphasising almost solely cognitive aspects, or the heavy workload of teachers mean minimising the number of teaching hours allocated for experimental work. There have been several initiatives already for a long time to develop new methods of evaluation of experimental work, but further efforts are obviously needed.

It is also possible, like during the early years in the history of the Finnish comprehensive school, that even if the school curriculum emphasised the role of practical work, the available learning materials might be of cookbook type promoting mechanical performing of work according to simple recipes. Thus pupils learn to read and follow instructions, do measurements etc., but they do not learn scientific thinking. Therefore, it is important to find other approaches, e.g. to formulate meaningful assignments for study of natural phenomena. Experiments should be for the students not only training of motoric skills e.g. in making connections in electrical circuits, but also promoting higher order thinking. In this respect teacher-led demonstration and student practical work are of equal value, but if we consider the positive development of the whole personality of a student, his/her active role and interaction with peers are most important. The role of experiments in school science can be derived from the general principle of science education that the ultimate source of information should be nature. Observations, measurements, experiments and experimental research are used as sources of basic information when formulating and implementing concepts, quantities, theoretical models, and applications. This may include solely autonomous action, but also observing and analysing teacher demonstrations, participating in group work during study visits, manipulating simulations, studying with audio-visual aids, listening to experienced scientists, etc. So there are numerous variations of learning methods in the area of experimental approach in science. Experiments may yield either quantitative or qualitative information and their role can be rather wide but sometimes also tightly focussed. The teacher may want to show a phenomenon by an experiment either for identifying it or for demonstrating its interesting features, dentifying or measuring related quantities, defining concepts and finding natural laws, etc. The numerous possible goals have been analysed above in the introductory paragraphs. The most essential aspect in the role of experiments in school science is that they are integrated in an organized entity of a science course and that they add to the interest and motivation of students. In the following, we present some machine translated excerpts related to the present theme available in Finnish on the web pages of The Research Centre for Mathematics and Science Education (RCMSE), University of Helsinki Observation as an enquiry method in science In the natural sciences observations, measurements and experiments (Scientific enquiry) are made so that new information would be obtained about the object to be examined. The perception, the measurement and the performing of experiments as a scientific method reflect the reality idea of natural sciences. Real beings and phenomena are those disclosed by the scientific method. So the validity of the information is determined by the nature based on the observations from which that have been done the reality logically is based. The performing of the observations and experiments as the foundation of the studying has been considered self-evident ever beginning from the work of of Galileo Galilei. The beings, such as particles, parts, fields and organisms also and plants are, they move and have effect, they can crash, can change, it grows, to dissolve returns etc..

Natural phenomena refer in the nature to the manifested events or also such which can be obtained to an event in controlled ones "by itself" in experiments. In the phenomena the beings do, they move, they behave, they change etc.. Some of the phenomena are for example the business, the reduction of the current in the circuit, the different crashes and the chemical reactions. The features of the beings or phenomena to be perceived are called the properties. Some of the properties can be, among others, the size, form, colour, reaction ability, boiling point, melting point, density of the being to be examined and difficulty in the getting to the business. The identification of the being is based on their permanent properties. The identification of phenomena in turn is based on flat with which the phenomena are commanded ones.

Quantities are used to present the qualities of beings and phenomena As in the natural sciences the subject of the teaching of natural sciences is phenomena, beings and structures of the nature. This has been indicated by stating in the core curriculum of the comprehensive school that some of the central contents of the teaching are the structures and systems, interactions of the nature, energy, processes and the experimental method. These the same can be interpreted the one meaning like the structures and phenomena of the nature. The observations and experiments of the science differ from the observations and experiments which are done in the teaching in regard to both the objective arrangement and the standard. In the science the observations and experiments are connected to the acceptance of the new information. The new information can be accepted only when it has been experimentally verified. In the teaching the objective of the performing of the observations and experiments is to support to learn the pupil, in other words to construct new information or to develop the skills of

the pupil. In the perception it is a question of the identification of the properties of the beings and phenomena. The making of the observations can be directed for example with questions: Tell what you see? How does it feel? Tell about its size and form. What do know you hear/? Draw the picture of the target perceived by you. When a researcher decides to make observations, measurements or experiments, he will not rush straightforwardly the target "for the brim" to be surprised at the beings and phenomena. He designs the experiments based on his always earlier information. Usually experiments the wide studying the earlier study of the field precedes on the reading the publications written by others. So the researcher's observations, measurements and experiments are well designed and an attempt is made to strengthen with them or to disprove a shaped hypothesis based on the earlier information. When examining dependences between two variables, an attempt is as well as possible made to standardise other factors. This kind of a experiment is often called an experiment. The pupil also examines the structures and phenomena of the nature based on his own earlier information. However, the pupil's earlier knowledge, in other words preconceptions are according to the studies often in the conflict with the ideas of the science. The researcher of the nature belongs to the scientific community which accepts and shares the new information got by a researcher or researcher group. The results of the study must be published and must be set therefore susceptible to the criticism. Also in the class the class community shares new information among themselves. Social interaction belongs for the learning in which case the pupils must be directed to discuss the information or material experimentally acquired, its handling and modelling and the estimating of its reliability. On the basis of the observations and experiments new concepts are brought into use. The introduction of concepts is the joining of them to language. Natural phenomena are explained and with the concepts, laws and theories are analysed. The concepts can be classified to the concept classes on the basis of their significance: beings, phenomena, quantities and models. The models of the beings or phenomena are beings also or phenomena linguistically. A stiff part that has been generalised can be used for example as the model of the iron bar (a being) and a harmonic business as the model of the vibration of the bow (a phenomenon). The exact limit between the models and beings or the phenomena cannot be set because when examining the phenomena or beings, idealisations are always made. Observation as a constructive process Learning is a constructive operation in which the pupil constructs new information by observing on reading, to discuss on the operation etc.. In modern learning opinion the information is not transferred from teacher to pupil but the pupil constructs it himself. The pupil selects and interprets information, analyses based on its information which is earlier than it and interrelating to it (Rauste von Wright & von Wright 1994, 15). The learning is always tied up with it to the situation and culture in which it takes place and always anchors itself in social interaction processes and through them to the significance structures

which have been created. The perception is understood from outside often in the workday thinking in as a proceeding process in which the external stimulus moves to the brain and consciousness through the senses. According to this kind of thinking the similar repeated stimulus always causes a similar observation and change in the consciousness. The modern learning idea interprets that the active charge of the detector is always connected to the perception in the observation process. The perception is the constant search of the information which is directed at the environment. To the perception from the point of view of the psychology of the learning the identification and selection and interpretation of useful information are always characteristic. There is always information from the environment over the perception but over the detector available, the momentary handling ability of the information is limited. The attentiveness is small perception of the exactness and hangs: the detector is able to pay attention to another environment the more carefully the less target is perceived. So the perception forces to the selection. When the observations are made, they will also be interpreted at the same time. The detector sees, it hears, it knows, it smells, it tastes as something to perceive. There is the world of observations, significances the world of stimuli not. The observations get the significance through the fact that they are connected to the one that has been learned earlier, the observations are interpreted based on the frame of reference formed by the earlier experiences and connected to the situation where the observations are made. The perception and the interpretation of observations are regulated by the ideas, objectives and motives of the detector. So the pupil's earlier information affects learning. The contents of the long-term memory affect where the attentiveness is directed, what information is received and how it is processed. According to Neisser (1976) perception is directed by the schemes activated by the situation, in other words by the established operations models of an observation or the motor coordination of the detector and by ideas of what is taking place. In the learning the schemes have a central position as factors which affect a mind pressing, remembering and recalling. The encoding of the new information and old taking depend forth on the logical order of schemes. English Adey (1988) lists the following schemes which are related to perception and the examining of natural phenomena: control of variables, elimination of variables, proportional reasoning, combinatory reasoning, multivariate thinking, scheme of conservation, balance, thinking which is based on a statistics or probabilities and correlation. An example of an smaller observation scheme is the scheme of the closed circuit formed for instance by a lamp and battery the variables of which are a bipolar lamp, a bipolar battery and metal cables with which the components have been connected to each other. When the essential variables get the wrong values, it will not be identified any more to be closed a circuit. So the schemes direct the interpretation of the observation information, expectations concerning the directing of the attentiveness and the progress of the perception. Based on the observations in turn the ideas which have formed will affect since their turn the scheme at the bottom of the observation strengthening it or editing. The development cycle of the perception scheme continues until the progress of the phenomenon ends or some other event fixes the attentiveness of the detector into its half . Emotions are components of the schemes and they direct a selective attentiveness. They are not only mental but in them the fears, desires, wishes and interests of the detector are

reflected. The emotions also affect the interpretation of the information. The frightfulness or desirability of an event can be the most important feature of the event to the detector. Ausubel (1968) has used a cognitive structure in other words to the pupil's knowledge, ideas, others factors in the same significance as a scheme which are related to the expectations and the processing of the information. The cognitive structure can be understood as the hierarchical system of concepts in some area of the information. The cognitive structure of the pupil will develop when the pupil connects new experiences to former schemes. So observation and performing experiments are also more generally means which help the pupil to connect the new concepts and principles to the pupil's earlier knowledge. Thus the experimental approach is a means which can be used to support a pupil on to process information and to record it in a long-term memory. With the experimental approach a pupil is supported on to build from the nature scientific information the capital which he can utilise in many ways in his later life. The teacher's role and task change to the role of the controller of the learning information about the divider's role. The new nature scientific information is not created through the teacher which as an authority would inform new information but the new information is created when the pupil is in the interaction with the nature. The information technology and communication technique and measuring automation can be in many ways utilised in this interaction. With the help of information technology and communication technique a sketch is collected information, is dealt with and it estimated. So the learning is connected to the pupil's studying process which the teacher or the computer cannot do for the pupil. The remembering is a result it is manifested in how the learned matters are preserved in the mind and how they are brought into use from there which. According to the multiple storage theory of the memory the information is dealt with and stored in a sensory warehouse (the warehouse of a sight and hearing), in a short memory (a scratch pad storage an active memory) and in a long time memory (a storage memory). The stimulus that has been obtained with the help of senses will come into a sensory warehouse without a voluntary control and stay from the environment there for about one second. The stimulus moves as the result of the voluntary attentiveness into the short-term memory in which it will be preserved for 5 - 20 seconds. The transition of the stimulus to the longterm memory requires the editing and processing of the stimulus. The information is edited usually to a semantic linguistic form after which it moves into a very wide longterm memory. Information cannot be given to the pupil or in cognitive learning opinion cannot be shared ready but the pupil an own one active, target-oriented and he learning the operation which searches for feedback, the learning requires a new one. The learning is closely connected to the studying process which is a self-controlling process in which the pupil designs, estimates and develops its own learning strategies. This process is a wholeness the contents in which are among others learned, the approach of the teaching, the characteristics of the pupil, the pupil's needs, experiences, objectives, attitudes and motivation are among themselves in the interaction and all affect learning. However, the pupil's independence and the own active operation are not any new demand because for example Dewey (1916) has proposed that the efficient independent learning be one of the central objectives of the learning. The cognitive psychology in the background of the cognitive learning view neither was

created as a uniform theory either, nor has become uniform. Among others, the studies of a learning psychology, artificial intelligence, psycholinguistics and developmental psychology have affected its birth. The influences have also been given to it from a socalled cultural-historical school. It is important to connect the learning in the school to the taking place context of teaching and studying. Assignment 1. Test you skills of observation! Close your eyes and tell, in what kind of a room you are now? How many windows, doors, tables, chairs etc. there are in the room? Where is the spot where the light is brightest and where it darkest? Is the room clean? Of what colour are the tables, walls, floor etc.? Measurement as the basic method of sciences The exact comparing of the properties of the phenomena and materials requires the measurement. During the lessons, among others, measurements on length, mass, temperature, pressure and time can be easily performed. On the basis of the measurement results for example the area can be calculated and part of different forms areas can be compared or the change of the temperature can be studied as the function of the time. Phenomena which are seriously perceived can be studied with senses by measuring as change of the length of the day, drawing of the Moon away, from the Earth heat expansion of the steel ruler, progress of the electric current in cable, quieting of the radiation, properties of materials and chemical reactions. The careful measurement can also be used to avoid inaccuracies and illusions which are related to the observations. The measurement is the basic method of physics and chemistry, sciences study the structures of the nature which surrounds the human being, phenomena and their explanations. They are experimental the clearest of the sciences. In the natural sciences there is interest of what in the phenomenon is preserved and how it can be influenced. Exact answers and the scientific experiments are looked for to these questions by among others perceiving, by measurements, experiments, on the help. The subject of the scientific study is beings, phenomena and structures of the nature. The researcher always tries to simplify and to control the target when designing the experiment arrangement to examine the phenomenon or the being in the laboratory conditions. It is possible then for example to monitor the effects of different variables on the phenomenon separately in which case the dependences are found out as the result of several measurements between the variables which describe the phenomenon. When the dependences are graphically presented and still mathematically, an exact model or law which presents the phenomenon will be obtained. So the information about the target is obtained by observing, by measuring and by concluding. Some of the reasoning methods used by the natural sciences are, among others, the induction, the deduction, the analogy reasoning, the presenting of the hypothesis, the certificate, the verifying and the

modelling. The information that has been received by examining is individual information, generalisations, principles, laws and theories. "The researcher does not make observations and conclusions off but based on background information and based on theories", empty. This way the received information is used and adapted in the further studies and e.g. in technology, or in the constructing building and focusing of the worldview. The society tries to affect especially use and adapting of the information in many ways. (see for example Kurki-Suonio & Kurki-Suonio, 1994). The theories of science are fundamental principles belonging together which explain a certain class of natural phenomena. The theories hold true in certain conditions with a certain accuracy. For example the laws of Newton are fundamental principles of the classic mechanics. They hold true for the phenomena of the macro physics to which the high speeds or energies are not connected. The objective of natural sciences is as general as possible and exact theory which explains all the natural phenomena as widely as possible and carefully. When the areas of qualification of the models and theories are known, they can be used for the predicting of new phenomena in a controlled way. The progress of natural sciences is based on the constant interaction of the experimental and theoretical study. This interaction produces structural, progressing and self-correcting information. Thus both experimental and theoretical researches are connected to scientific information. The character of natural sciences includes the aim to connect new information and aim for the expansion of the area of qualification of the theory to a known uniform data structure as science.

When performing measurements most often we compare the properties of two objects or follow the chance in a property with time. We may e.g. find the answer to the question, which of two pupils is taller or which container has warmer water in it. In science we often want to find an answer to a question concerning a phenomenon. Examples of such questions can be of the type: Does the mass of a loaf change, when baking it? Does the mass of a quantity of water change when dissolving sugar in it? Does the volume of water change, when pouring it from a bottle to a shallow container?

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London: Rout-ledge. Hopkins, D. 1989. Evaluation for School Development. Milton Keynes:The Open University. Howe, C., Tolmie, A., Anderson, A. & Mackenzie, M. 1992. Conceptual knowledge in Physics: The Role of group interaction in computer-supported teaching. Learning and Instruction 2, 161 183. Joyce, B & Weil, M. 1980. Models of Teaching. London: Prentice-Hall international. Light, P. H. & Mevarech, Z. R. 1992. Cooperative learning with computers: An introduction. Lear-ning and Instruction 2, 155 159. Meisalo, V., Ertuuli, M. & Capaccio, E. 1990. Evaluation of laboratory work in secondary school science teaching. Development of evaluation methods for the Finnish comprehensive school with emphasis on biological sciences and chemistry. University of Helsinki. Department of Teacher Education. Research Report 84, 19-21. Nastasi, B. K. & Clements, D. H. 1991. Research on cooperative learning: Implications for practice. School Psychology Review 30, 110 131. Novak, J. D. 1986. A Theory of Education. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Osborne, R. & Freyberg, R. 1989. Learning in Science. Hong Kong: Heinemann. Peacock, A. 1986. Science Skills, A Problem-solving Activities Book. Singapore: MacMillan Educa-tion Ltd. Qualter A., Strang, J., Swatton, P. & Taylor, R. 1990. Exploration - A Way of Learning Science. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Limiteds. Siddons, C. 1990. Fysiikan kokeita. (suomentajat Ahtee, M. & Mattila, J. O.) Helsinki: Otava. Solomon, J. 1987. Social influences on the construction of pupils' understanding of science. Studies in Science Education 14, 63 82. Taylor, C. 1988. The Art and Science of Lecture Demonstration. Philadelphia: Adam Hilger. Tynjl, P. 1999. Towards Expert Knowledge? A Comparison Between a Constructivist and a Traditional Learning Environment in University. International Journal of Educational Research 31 (5).

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Experimental Science Projects: An Introductory Level Guide (available at http://www.isd77.k12.mn.us/resources/cf/SciProjIntro.html , visited 26.10.2007). http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Galileo.html , visited 29.10.2007)

Experiments in school science


Children and young people are interested in the matters of the environment naturally. Already quite a small child makes observations and questions of the environment continuously. He feels, raises, pushes, smells and tastes objects, classifies and compares their properties, in other words studies its environment, it experiments. There are the scientist's and the child's operational common features but differences also. The most central differences are in the objective arrangement and standard of the making of the study. The scientific study helps researchers to invent hypotheses and makes the experimenting of hypotheses possible. This way the hypotheses get either support or they are overturned and by thus conducting the study new information is created. At school the objective of the doing of the study is to support the learning, to help to perceive and to analyse nature and its phenomena and support the versatile development of the child's personality. The nature scientific experiment is a way to get information about the nature. The nature scientific experiment is that question which to the nature is presented and through the experiment the nature answers. Earlier ideas and the natural way of the human being to analyse the world direct all observation. In a nature scientific experiment earlier information directs the planning of the experiment, realisation, the interpretation of results and the making of the conclusions. In the everyday life the observation is not usually designed. It indeed is difficult to learn the planning of the experiment. When designing a experiment, it is thought what how an answer can be obtained to the questions and what kind of results from the experiment can be expected already is known about the matter. The experiment can be used to experiment earlier information and ideas or to

become acquainted with the being, phenomenon or their properties The scientific experiment (or more widely, scientific research) is suitable for getting at the stage of the deepening information but also at the stage of the arrangement of the problem for the model of the learning which examines excellently sometimes experiments must be performed so that one wants to get the answer to what kind of matters will become clear. In addition to the arrangement of the problem, the scientific experiment (extended or a study) contains, among others, the following stages (Adeyet al.,1989 ): identification of variables (for example: does the temperature have effect? what is measured?)setting of hypotheses, planning of the experimental arrangement, collecting of measurement results, presenting of results and interpretation of results. It is to be noted that the pupils do not know the stages of the making of the study and the forms of the reporting even naturally. The making of the study and the drawing up of the report must be taught therefore to pupils as other acquisition methods of the information also. To read to the learning child a novel is not given to the hand as the first one but the learning begins the abc-book etc. with short and simple texts. The making of scientific experiment requires going of the pupil, among others, to the following matters: becoming acquainted, co-learning and cooperative learning in which the contribution of all the members of the group is significant and important, systematic working and ability to separate the skill to present as a table moth, schemes and text the information that has been collected in the nature unessential, personal studying the study of the nature, to the subject matter of the study and to methods the most essential one both writes its thought in a clearly linked and proceeding form logically training to present its thoughts, its ideas and its research results and in writing that orally, skill to utilise the received feedback and on the other hand to react critically to the feedback estimating of the reliability and exactness of the obtained results. In their opinion, the doing of the study develops at least the following features of the personality in the pupil: increase in the information from field of the study, learning of the making of the study, handling of information, presenting, estimating, use of the source books, sense of responsibility, perseverance, originality... , organising of work, together operating, ... planning and control of the use of time. These will be connected to the different stages of the making of the study which are examined in the following numbers. The emphasising of stages depends on the objectives which are set on a nature scientific experiment. The objective of the experiment can be the determination of a value, the experimenting of the area of qualification of the law, the experimenting of the hypothesis, the quantifying of the interdependence of the variables, the perceiving of the interdependence to big. If the objective to a big one is for example a determination of the value, then the planning of the experiment and the collecting of measurement results will be emphasised or if the objective is quantifying of the interdependence of the variables, then the presenting of results and the drawing of conclusions will be emphasised. The making of the study from the point of view of the cooperation is examined in connection with the introduction of

cooperative approaches.

Scientific experiment as a pedagogical approach


1. THE TEACHER'S GENERAL PLAN The teacher designs the possibilities of the making of the study and the practical restrictions and surveys resources. Some of the resources are among others the available teachers, devices, devices needed in the reporting such as computers, coloured pencils, scissors, cardboards and targets (a measurement). When making the general plan, the teacher will take the pupils' age and level of performance, time, a curriculum, the opportunities to cooperate into consideration, among others, during the school year, with other subjects and time to be used. The necessary time hangs very much from how familiar it is to do the study for the pupils, self from the readiness a study on the subject

to be examined, on the openness of the act and on the given instructions and the pupils' general daddy. One can resort also to the help of the outside experts of the school. The empiric material can be got from the water works of the municipality, from the health centre, among others, from the rescue institution and from the companies of the locality. A connection also to the experts of research institutions or of universities is obtained through the data networks. In that case the study will be more strongly emphasised to the handling of results, to the presenting and drawing of conclusions. 2. THE INTRODUCTION OF THE SUBJECT AREA/FORMULATING THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS The introduction of the topic of the experiment or the study by the teacher demonstrates the subject matter of the study to the pupils and tells where the tools, books and reporting utensils needed in the making of the study possibly are found from and how long time has been reserved for the making of the study. At this stage the forming of the general questions the answering which requires the performing of experiments will be begun. At the stage of the planning of the experiment the final group-specific research problems will be determined. With the pupils it is thought from the use of the external expert resources and data networks of the school from possible ones. The teacher can talk also about his earlier experiences of the making of the study and can bring up the strategies of the making of the study with which it was succeeded. The pupils can also be told about those advantages which are found for example compared to the traditional teaching, a study on the doing. In this context such information also and skills which are needed in a modern work community can be brought up. The scope of the describing of the subject matter hangs a study on the degree of the openness and a study on the arrangement of the objectives of the act. If the objective is for example to develop the pupils' independent working and the operating in a group of skills, the subject matter will be restrictedly shown so that the pupils would get independently and to design the study as from many sides as possible also in on the other hand, the group. The subject matter can then be given with one or two words. If as the subject matter of the study "the properties of the bow" are for example given, the pupils have to design also the necessary measuring devices in addition to the making of the study themselves and have to choose or have to develop the quantities with which the properties of the bow are measured. Usually it begins spontaneously to form during the introduction of the subject matter, designing the study and executing groups. 3.BRUSHING UP THE RELEVANT RESEARCH METHOD Students are taught in a suitable scope the making of the study. On first times, when one objective is to learn to conduct the study to the subject matter the tools to the describing and introduction of the making of the study enough time is reserved.

If a teacher says or looks a video like an earlier study on doing and problems which are related to it, the pupils will be asked to think how they take these points into consideration in the planning and doing of their own study. On the other hand, the making of the study is learned by only self examining. 4.FORMING OF GOUPS For the forming of groups there are numerous possibilities. The groups can be spontaneously established by drawing lots or the teacher can determine the groups. The forming of groups and their operation have been examined earlier. If a pupil decides alone to work, he will have much freedom and responsibility. In the planning and realisation of the work opinions, restrictions or motives of the others do not need to be taken into consideration. A two person group is probably the most general size of the group. In that case the discussion partner will be near and it also is simple to fit from a schedule, working and sectioning. The team of more pupils is useful in wider problems. When in that case conducting a study, the skills of the social interaction are learned in addition to the examining of the nature. The groups can be established between the pupils also of the separate classes or of even different schools. Then different team programmes can be used for the communication of groups. With the help of team programmes there are no members of the group the ones that have been bound to the same schedule but one can work more flexibly. 5.THE PLANNING OF THE EXPERIMENT The considering of doing experiments and the making of experiments in science classes can hardly too much emphasise the importance of the planning of the experiment. The children and young people typically rush directly to perform the experiment and only after the performing of the experiment begin to think what in the experiment should have been done. With the careful planning much unnecessary work saves and doing again. The planning of the experiment is on the other hand difficult and laborious. When designing an experiment, one must think from beginning to end, the structure of the whole experiment. What how you experience is known it is performed what kind of results are expected. The groups design a suitable division of labour, making of the study and reporting. The amount of the teacher's manoeuvering in the planning depends on the pupils' experience in the doing of the study. If the computers of the school are in the computer laboratories, the possibilities to use of such laboratories must be taken into consideration in the planning of the making of the study. If a study is open, the pupils will have in the mind a subject matter which they would like to study. The marking off of the subject matter the research problems is the essential stage of the doing of the study. At this stage the pupils will be actively supported by the teacher. When a subject matter is surveyed and marked off from the different approaches

of the handling of the information, there is an advantage. Scientific experiments are to be designed so that in one go the effect of only one variable on the phenomenon to be examined will be studied and standardised or other variables will be controlled. If the problem is for example to clarify what factors have an influence on the swing time of the pendulum, the possible factors will be first clarified. Some of such possible factors which have an influence on the swing time are the scope of the swing, the mass of the weight and the length of the thread. The effect of one variable on the swing time is studied in one go and others are standardised in which case it is noticed that the scope of the swing and the mass of the weight to make careful measurements do not really have an effect on the swing time and by presenting them conveniently it is noticed that the second power of the swing time is proportional to the length of the thread. The planning of the study also includes the identification of the variables of the study, the noticing of their types, the planning of the measurement of the variable and of the possible indicator, carrying out, the presenting of measurement results with the suitable scale. The values of the variable can be measured at least with a classification scale and order scale and with constant scale. For example the type of the coffee cup is typically measured with a classification scale, the roughness of the surfaces on the order scale and temperature on a constant scale. The type of the variable affects the graphic presenting of the values received by the variable. For example it is not very natural to present the degree of the roughness of the surface with a line diagram. Still the planning of the study includes deciding about the number of a suitable sample size and/or repetition experiments. These decisions affect the reliability of the study and to the generalizability of results. The deciding of these matters requires basing to the earlier information. In addition to the teacher and in addition to the textbook, the sources of the information can be libraries and the databanks of the Internet. 6.DATA ACQUISITION /PERFORMING THE EXPERIMENT The experiment is performed in the class, outside, in the nature, at home or for instance in the laboratory of the industrial establishment. Acquisition at the stage of the material the teacher's manoeuvering is usually needed less than to be designed a study. Sometimes the collecting of the material is a very short stage in the study and the actual work is both in planning and in reporting. If a measurement system must be connected available to the computer, it also can be used in the collecting of the material. The reliability of the collected material can be estimated according to the how long trip between the original source of the information and the researcher is. Directly the material that has been collected in the nature is the most reliable in this sense. The observational errors have to be estimated separately. If there is a filter, for example some other person, between a researcher and the primary information, the researcher will make use of the

secondary information. Such secondary sources are for example information acquired of the books, simulations, the databases and data networks. When measurements are made, it is really important that what is wanted and expected is measured really. The reliability also includes the doing of repetition measurements. Here the independence also is important when observations are made, is measured and to be collected material. It is good for the pupil to write during the study other points also than the actual measurement results down from the phenomenon to be examined. The use of a separate study diary is recommended. For example it is considerably more difficult to examine static electricity on moist like on dry air. The strange results of the experiments of the static electricity can be understood if there is the information about the weather of the measuring time available. 7.PRESENTING THE RESULTS The amount of the manoeuvering of the teacher of the handling of the material at a handling phase and reporting stage Data, however, increase. It is natural that the pupils do not notice for example an invariance which appears in the measurement results because the creation of the new quantities and laws is a demanding process also in the science and requires usually a considerable intelligence (for example Newton, Joule, Ohm) from the observer. In the handling of the material there may be help for example from a measuring or spreadsheet or from another tool program that has been meant for handling of numerical data. By studying the acquired information in the natural sciences (such as also in other sciences), it is often graphically presented. From a graphic presentation the change of the values of the variable becomes clear on one glance. When in the measurements a measurement system is used, the graphic presentation will be easily created. Also from traditional tool programs the spreadsheet is suited especially well for graphic presenting of the information. When using also a spreadsheet, the axes must be named and must be attempted to the fact that the figure is as informative as possible. Read more from the graphs 8. INTERPRETATION OF THE RESULTS, MAKING OF THE CONCLUSIONS It is worth separating the drawing of conclusions from presenting the results. On the other hand, the choosing of the presenting way of results facilitates the drawing of conclusions and the drawing of conclusions requires the presenting of results in the suitable way. The presenting of results and the drawing of conclusions are therefore among themselves in the more or less close interaction. The drawing of conclusions requires usually close social interaction. The new information is accepted in the science in the scientific community and in the class in the class

community. The drawing of conclusions often requires the teacher's also control. The pupils' earlier information, in other words preconceptions affects the drawing of conclusions. On the basis of earlier numbers we know that there are often mistakes in the pupils' earlier knowledge. The pupils must be therefore encouraged to speak its conclusions on own to the voice and to compare them with the conclusions presented by others. When drawing conclusions, obtained results are compared also with earlier studies and theory. 9.REPORTING THE RESULTS OF THE EXPERIMENT/STUDY Reporting if the objective to a big one is only a determination of the value, the report can remain a very short description from the method and result. When the objective of the experiment is for example an examination of the firmness of the paper, it will be natural that the report is more versatile What does the research report show and how has it been examined. The style is a matterof-fact and exact language. In the report the possible own research results from the results of the others are clearly separated. The own results are compared with results of the others or with a theory background. In the drawing up of the research report the information technology is worth utilising. The word processing program can be freely used to change a text and to move pieces of one place to another. The analysis of the study is worth making with the parser of the word processing program. If one does not want to use the parser, it will be worth beginning the drawing up of the report with a table of contents. The table of contents shows in one way or another the following elements: heading summary contents introduction theory background problems of the study methods, experiment arrangements and devices collected material and results examination of results sources the discussion is obvious that in the reporting different multimedia applications become common. In the reports there is a text, it describes diagrams, figures, films, animations and voice. This kind of a report can be studied in free order by moving through the link words to new displays. The reporting in the Internet also will become common. When the report is drawn up in a group, there will be an advantage from many principles which are related to the process writing. The unfinished report is supported by having it read by other members of the group and utilises to the further development of the report the feedback that has been received this way. In the reporting on the other hand the contribution of the member of each group for the forming of the wholeness must be clarified. Often one must require that every member of the group has a certain totally independent share in the report. Read more from the structure and style of the research report

Evaluation of the study Every researcher and group gets feedback during the introduction both from the second pupils and from the teacher. The research reports can be saved in study books or folders, portfolios which the pupils show at regular intervals to the teacher. The pupil himself decides what report he demonstrates and how he justifies it, the successful report of the one. In the discussion, among others, the success in the planning of the study, in the presenting of results or the results in the examination of exactness and sensibility can be brought up. To the introduction to other pupils or whole of the results of the study school community one belongs to the character of the study. The study is public. In addition to an oral report, the results of the study can be published in the assemblies or on the walls of the school with the help of a poster. The most interesting studies can be published for instance in the paper of the school or they can be offered in the local newspaper to be published. It is possible for the pupils to participate with their studies also in different national competitions. There are the ones that have been most known from these the competitions arranged by the interest groups of the industry and by the pedagogic teacher organisations. The publicity and spurring prizes are an important incentive both to the pupils and to the teacher. The reporting to other pupils is the presenting of the oral summary from the results of the study. For every pupil or team enough time for the reporting on the results of the study is reserved therefore. The oral presentation is particularly the presenting of the summary and not the introduction of the whole study. Nobody has the strength to follow a very long talk intently. Usually tables and figures are used as the support of the presentation. In the presentation it is avoided from reading usually a written summary to the voice. The opponents reading in advance the written report of the study also which they study carefully are worth to the introduction opportunity of the study naming. The opponent brings out the income and shortcomings of the work in his address. The criticism should be building and the opponent should present his own improvement proposals also and solution ideas to the shortcomings perceived by him. The good and encouraging custom to begin the analytical group discussion on the work is to show the three central income of the work even though and to justify why they is income of the work. The opponent does not wish the one paying too much attention to the irrelevances perhaps in the work into defective use of the spot or for example to illogical numbering of tables but his task to try to get its essential contribution, in other words problem loose from the work is ?a method, ?the results, ?the conclusions. The maker's of the study/the factors' and opponent's/the opponents' discussion is most pleased a debate in which own viewpoints are argued to the facts and the results of the study, inheritance support. Among others, the possible subjects of the further study are discussed work together and after the opponent's evaluation are

proposed. If one wants to use opponents in the evaluation of the work, its handling may take the whole lesson