1. Organising an investigation

Any investigation needs to be planned and conducted carefully otherwise the results might be incorrect or unreliable. In this activity you will look at a statement that needs to be shown to be right or wrong.

Make sure your pupils have all they need before they start an investigation, and that they understand the task before they explore what they might do to make a start. Your role is to support them as they work by asking questions to stimulate their thinking, by encouraging to develop their ideas.

Case Study 1: Using questions to prepare for a practical investigation

Mrs Mwakapenda in South Africa wanted to give her pupils a practical investigation on length. She prepared some questions to ask them because she wanted to ensure that they understood the task properly. She began her lesson by discussing the questions with the whole class. (SeeResource 1: Sample questions).

She was aware that the investigation was not just about measuring. It was also about collecting and recording data. She wanted to make sure her pupils understood exactly what it would entail. She was very pleased with what her pupils achieved because they knew how to organise an investigation. They had carried out a fair test and measured the distances well too.

Activity 1: Who can jump the furthest?

Begin by asking your pupils to consider the following statement and discuss in groups of 4 how they would investigate whether it is true.

“A tall person can jump further than a short person”.

Each group needs access to a tape measure or ruler or some other means of measuring e.g. string or rope. Discuss how they might answer the question and agree on a process. This might be like this:

  • Take two measurements for each person and measure everyone in the group
  • Measure height by standing against a scale on a wall which you made before the lesson
  • The jump must be a “standing” jump – the person stands on a line, and then jumps as far as they can
  • Measure the length of the jump using a tape measure or string etc

You know that the difficult part is how the results are checked. There are various ways to do this but you must see what your pupils decide to do. Discuss / show / share what the groups find out. See Resource 2: Two ways to check for ideas.

Do your measurements agree with the statement? If not, rewrite the statement to match your results.

Section 5: Working with distance

2. Letting pupils plan their investigations