I recently realized that my students need a lot more extra practice on certain science skills: Graphing, use of simple pieces of lab equipment, problem solving, critical thinking, interpolation and extrapolation. I wrote this activity to cover all of these things.
In this lab activity, I give each group of students 4 pieces of poster board of regular size. Prior to the lab, I cut the poster board into different sizes and shapes. The students use a ruler to determine the length and width of each regular-shaped piece. They then determine the area of the piece of poster board.
A balance is used to determine the mass of each piece of poster board, and this data is placed on a graph. The student should immediately see from the graph that there is a direct relationship between mass of the poster board and the area of the poster board. When the four points are plotted on the graph, it should result in a straight line.
There is nothing amazing about this activity, but it does provide VALUABLE practice in graphing. Next, comes the problem solving and critical thinking section of this lab. Students are given a piece of poster board that is irregular in shape, and they are asked to determine the area of this oddly shaped piece of poster board. The student easily determines the mass of the irregular piece. Once the mass is known, the student will use their graph to determine the area.
The activity also includes follow up questions. The student will use their graph to interpolate and extrapolate to determine the answer to a series of questions.
I am offering this activity to you for free. I hope that you will enjoy using it with your students.