I made this project to give my 8th graders the opportunity to use their statistical skills (collecting, organizing, describing, and analyzing data) by exploring a research question of their own creation.
Step 1: Develop a research question. (about 30 minutes)
I “modeled” how to develop a research question by pretending to create the question “What’s the association between an animal’s weight and its brain weight?” which I borrowed from Unit 6 Lesson 8 of IM.
Then students worked alone or in pairs to create a research question and a plan for collecting data. I gave students three options for collecting data:
- researching online
- experimenting on their classmates
- surveying their classmates/community
To inspire students, I offered them:
- A list of materials they could use to design an experiment.
- A list of sample survey questions to get them thinking
- Many books about animals. (Just because animals are appealing to many students AND easy to research online.) Here are some of the ones I purchased on a spree to the bookshop. I love having math-y picture books…my classroom feels instantly more stimulating.
Kids spent some time picking their topic and worked alone/with a partner to complete this project plan handout. Nearly everyone needed to revise their research questions and add significantly more detail to their plan. I created this checklist of “look-fors” to help me and my co-teacher give feedback to kids:
Step 2: Practice Round (55 min)
During the next lesson, students learned about the project expectations by helping me with “my research project.” I modified lesson 8 to fit this purpose. Students used the data provided by IM to construct, describe, and analyze a scatter plot with a linear model while familiarizing themselves with the checklist of expectations.
Step 3: Students collected data for their projects. A fun + chaotic day! (55 min)
Research questions included: Is there an association between….
- – a person’s mouth span and the number of mini-marshmallows they can fit in their mouth
- – the circumference of a person’s bicep and the number of pushups they can do in 30 seconds
- – an animal’s heart rate and its life span
- – an animal’s weight and its tongue weight
- – an animal’s weight and the weight of the food it eats per day
- – the number of bites someone takes to eat a twizzler and the time it takes them to eat a twizzler
- – the weight of a car and its gas mileage
Step 4: Organize Data (55+ min: most groups needed two class periods)
Students constructed their scatter plots and then created a poster on newsprint paper with their results. This was a great opportunity to review how to calculate slope. Fingers-crossed it sticks with more of them this time.
A couple of samples:
Step 5: Celebration! Kids got to see each others’ posters, and give feedback to their peers. (25 min)
All of the materials I created can be found in this folder!
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improving this project or how I share my projects.