Your Lab-O-Matic isn’t just some ordinary mutt that followed you home. It’s a clean, friendly companion that will be there to greet you at the door with your slippers after a tough day at the office. Well, maybe no slippers, but it is clean and friendly. More importantly, though, your Lab-O-Matic’s design is rooted in some pretty good research.
In the coming paragraphs, we’re going to provide some background for the development and use of your Lab-O-Matic. We’re not doing this to bore you! The following is meant to provide context for your use of the Lab-O-Matic. Many, many people before us have discussed the educational underpinnings of experimental design and we thought you’d like to read some of what they wrote. We hope that some of this information might provoke you to read further in the original source.
Science for All Americans
Copyright © 1989, 1990 by American Association for the Advancement of Science
Published nearly twenty-five years ago, this book set the stage for much of the work we’ve seen from NGSS and others. It emphasizes “There simply is no fixed set of steps that scientists always follow, no one path that leads them unerringly to scientific knowledge.” Taking this into consideration, the Lab-O-Matic is not a linear document. It does not force students into a fixed set of steps or a path that always has to be followed. Sometimes you’ll want to use the whole document, and sometimes just part of it. That’s okay. In fact, later we’ll discuss how the Lab-O-Matic can be easily adapted for struggling learners in nearly any classroom.
America’s Lab Report
Copyright © 2006 by the National Research Council of the National Academies
America’s Lab Report is a great resource if you’re wondering how a lab should fit into the rest of your instruction. The book focuses on “Integrated Instructional Units” which incorporate both laboratory activities with other kinds of science learning experiences. One comment, in particular, stands out for us in terms of using the Lab-O-Matic: “...research on integrated instructional units suggests that both framing a particular laboratory experience ahead of time and following it with activities that help students make sense of the experience are crucial in using a [lab] to support science learning.”
Making Sense of Secondary Science
Copyright © 1994 by Routledge
Our last resource to shed light on WHY to invite the Lab-O-Matic in your classroom is a nearly twenty-year-old book called “Making Sense of Secondary Science.” The book addresses a number of science concepts and discusses how students best learn about each topic and how a child’s stage of development plays in to their understanding of those concepts. Specific to the use of our Lab-O-Matic is this comment: “Teaching and learning based on concern for constructing ideas requires children not only to ‘do’ laboratory work, but also to think about how their investigations relate to the ideas they are developing. Children need to be aware of the range of different ideas that their classmates may have for explaining the same phenomenon and they should develop a habit of evaluating these explanations.” If used appropriately, the Lab-O-Matic does just this. When students create their Scientific Argument and write about their interactions in the Communicating Information section, it allows for opportunities among students to share those ideas and invites them to acknowledge and inquire about other perspectives.
Understanding Science. 2013. University of California Museum of Paleontology. 27 Oct 2013
Another influence on our work toward the current version of the Lab-O-Matic is that of the University of California Museum of Paleontology. Their “How Science Works” flowchart forever changed the way we look at experimental design. Representing the processes a scientist goes through to help assemble a body of knowledge, their flowchart depicts the interconnected nature of science, idea testing, feedback from the scientific community, discovery and positive (or potentially negative) outcomes from a scientist’s work. This is a fantastic resource for classroom science teachers and can be found at www.understandingscience.org .