X Perience Science

I developed X Perience Science in 2009. I wanted a product wherein students would apply the scientific method to answering a question but I wanted the process to be collaborative in nature. Most science curriculums start their year with the scientific method so it made sense for students to take ownership of a question they were curious about and apply the scientific method to it. More and more, science education is being redesigned to reflect a process rather than a destination. I was uninspired from countless science fairs wherein students worked in private but then unveiled flimsy display board that were judged by a panel of teachers. I wanted students to have their work critiqued by other students and get input before proceeding with the next step of the scientific method. The origins of the idea focused around the following learning standards:
  • A place where students can use math, reading, writing and technology in conducting scientific inquiries
  • An arena for communicating research and inviting review from others
  • Driving our economical, political, cultural, social, and environmental understanding forward with scientific knowledge and rigor
I created a wiki for students to post preliminary experimental design such as their hypothesis, variables, and procedures but get input from one other scientist before proceeding. Logistically, this did not take a lot of time and experiments were done independently at home, but experiments were shared in class later through a peer review process called "Critical Friends". Expectations for the project were:
  1. Students do the experiment at home.
  2. They had to document all the headings of the scientific method.
  3. They had to incorporate data graphically that supported or didn't support their hypothesis.
  Publisher Documents The product has changed over the years, but my initial idea was that it would mimic a scientific journal or publication with experiments from half a dozen students. The first was a publisher document which looks like this: X Perience Science Issue #4 B Block Some other links to other notable issues are:
 X Perience Science Issue #4 A Block-Which brand of gum blows the biggest bubble? Which diaper is most absorbent? What affects an ice cubes melting? How does salt affect an eggs buoyancy? Can we improve our video game performance?

X Perience Science Issue #2 A Block-How does the brain respond to funny stories? Which brand of popcorn pops the fastest? Do puppies recognize their owners? Which brand of tape is the best? Which brand of mouse is best for your hand?

X Perience Science Issue #1 F Block-Do people control their right or left hand better? Does an ice cube melt faster in air or water? Does affect your running speed? Does music help you perform better in sports?

Personally, to make publisher documents above was a nightmare. Students could not work on them together, but rather, small groups would have to copy and paste sections from the wiki into the document and then move over and have the next student in their group do the same. What I liked best about it was that it "felt" like a journal with a number of experiments devoted to each issue. I printed some issue to put in our school's periodical section and thought it was a good step forward in creating reasons for good writing. Logistically, it was hard to manage and occupied too much of my time. This gave way to:

Student Blogs Logistically, blogs were so much easier to mange. When we went to a 1:1 laptop program in the middle school with students having blogs by sixth grade, it was a logical platform on which to move this project. With Diigo, "comments" and other 2.0 tools, students could interact with each others work just as, or even easier than printing out copies for everyone. Some examples of X Perience science questions on wordpress blogs:
What kind of lock is the strongest?
Does classical or rock music help you relax more? 
Does listening to music affect your game play?    

Interested in Being a Collaborator? Initially, I managed this project internally at our school wherein I would partner up students with other students in different classrooms. Although easy to mange, this project really got interesting when I invited other schools to participate. We managed our discussions through the X Perience Science Wiki which all participants were given access. If you are interested in this project, you should have an interest in:
  1. Having your students share their work with others.
  2. Allowing your students critique the work of others.
After students are given access to the wiki, they select an experiment that has invited peer review and write a quick reply. The entire process does not take more than 30 minutes, and can be done outside of class time, so it is not very disruptive to the time needed to cover your curriculum. If you are interested in having your students develop a partnership to drive their understanding through science education view the wiki here or contact me at: gjohnston@ssis.edu.vn