Pedestrian Safety for Students

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Lesson 2: The Scientific Method-
A tool for organizing our work

Introduction and Goals
Lesson 1:
Part 1
The N.Y. Times Article
Lesson 1:
Part 2

Dr. Renshaw's Presentation
Lesson 2: The Scientific Method
Lesson 3:
Our Research
Lesson 4: The Walkable Studies
Lesson 5: Collating the Data-Using Excel
Lesson 6:
Our Projects
Helpful Web Sites

1. The Scientific Method
At this point, I knew that it was important to organize this unit into a framework. What, exactly had the Doctor done? He saw a problem, collected data, made a suggestion/hypothesis and tested his theory. He had used the Scientific Method! Here was a chance to approach a real problem as "scientists." I reviewed the Scientific Method with the class. What is it? How can we use it? I wanted this unit to provide the students with a "real" opportunity to understand how this method works.

Students should understand:

For a great animated introduction to the scientific method, I sent my students to the computers to find: . This is a wonderful site for reviewing and understanding the four steps used by scientists.

WARNING!: Currently, Brainpop allows one "free" visit per computer per day. Your students can view the film more than once when they access the site. But, if they attempt to log on after signing off, free access will be denied.

A. Have the students take the "Quiz" before they watch the movie.
B. Encourage students to note any questions or new ideas.
(In the computer lab, I will often group students using two computers for each group. One computer is used strictly for taking notes while the other computer is used for a specific activity.)

2. Now, use this chart to assess your students' understanding of the Scientific Method.

For those students who wanted to explore this further, I suggested:
This site, created by Rochester University Professor, Frank Wolf, goes into greater detail about the Scientific Method but was understood by my students.

3. Class Discussion: Did Dr. Renshaw use the Scientific Method? How? What was his Observation? Hypothesis? Prediction? Experiment?
(I found that my students were able to apply the steps of the scientific method easily to this study. The doctor observed a problem with pedestrian safety, hypothesized that he could make improvements, predicted that this would improve safety and ran his experiment over six years.)
4. For Homework, as a method of quick assessment, the students were asked to create a simple written explanation of the Scientific Method. Answers were based on our Internet search and could also include information from our school science text. These were reviewed and discussed during the following class session. (As the unit progressed, we ran into a number of problems being "faithful" to the Scientific Method. At times, there were too many variables in the data we collected. In spite of this, the children and I learned as much by our mistakes as by our successes.)