How to make it so the teacher accepts this project?

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How to make it so the teacher accepts this project?

Postby dani113077 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:36 pm

My 5th grader has had several ideas shot down by her teachers as not being 'actual' science experiments. One was an project she found on this site!

1st idea=(from this site) Dog toys: what makes one a favorite or a flop to fido? This was rejected because it was "too subjective. How can you really tell what the animal is thinking? Keep your experiment more concrete, something you can actually measure."

So 2nd idea-Does coke help conduct electricity? (She also wanted to include other household foods/drinks, but that is the question she put) This was rejected because "This is a one time project, not a science experiment." The teacher recommended she find something with more items.

So 3rd idea- you can measure this one, and it has more items- Do plants grow better with tea or water? Accepted! So the problem seems to be solved. She put 5 different kinds of seeds, 3 of each seed into bags, labeled, one started with water, the other with tea. She was careful to only use unsweetened tea (because that would have been 2 factors) She is down to analyzing the data. She had to turn in a 'rough' experiment. Everything how it was going to be written, just not on the board. The teacher is now saying she has too many seeds, she should only have one variety instead of the 5!

The teacher is turning this into a very bad experience for my child. My daughter wants me to take her out of school and home school her instead! All over this science experiment. They are turning very good ideas she has had into something with horrible results. She doesn't have time to restart the seeds, and I am not sure how to salvage this. Should we just go ahead and take the seeds out of the bag and only have one variety? I am going to go talk to the teacher tomorrow after school. She will not let my daughter continue the experiment until she changes her perimeters and data. I guess she can just do the pinto beans-neither set grew :lol: That is why my daughter and I talked about having a variety of seeds in the same conditions-to more accurately measure the results! This is the first time this teacher has been in charge of the science experiments and I am not sure she knows what she is doing.
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:05 pm
Occupation: Mom of Student 5th grade
Project Question: Do plants grow better with tea or water?
Project Due Date: 2/28/12
Project Status: I am finished with my experiment and analyzing the data

Re: How to make it so the teacher accepts this project?

Postby donnahardy2 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:40 pm

Hi Dani,

Oh dear. I guess my job here is the help with the science, so I will give you some suggestions for the project.

First, your daughter’s teacher is correct. She does have the authority to approve the project, so if the teacher wants to stop the experiment until the other types of seeds have been taken out of the bag, then your daughter should do this. You don’t have time to do this experiment with more pinto bean seeds, however if you started some radish seeds today, you would have results by Sunday. Scientifically, the best experiment to test the effect of tea on germination would be one with a large number of one type of seed. If you can’t set up the radish seeds, then the pinto beans, with no germination in either group, would be acceptable data for a science project as well.

The science project is due next Monday, so I also recommend that your daughter write up this project as completely as possible. Here is information from the science buddies on the display board. I’m sure this teacher has also provided written instructions on writing up the project, so check those instructions and make sure all details are included. Your controlled parameter is the water, the independent variable is the tea, and the dependent variable is the percent germination (is that what your daughter was measuring). Do let me know if you need any more advice for completing the project. ... oard.shtml

I think this experience is more of a lesson in dealing with difficult people than a lesson in science, so please encourage your daughter to make the best of this situation. She is learning important skills is dealing with people. Hopefully, she will be able to focus on writing up the science project, even though it was not what she wanted to do or even planned to do, and not let the teacher’s criticism overwhelm the situation. She just needs to survive until next Monday, and I’m sure she can do a great job under difficult circumstances. This is definitely not worth quitting school over.

Your daughter’s teacher was probably trying to require a perfect experiment. Ideally, the best projects ask a question that can be answered with a controlled experiment with results that can be measured. Using a large number of one type of seed and repeating the results would also be ideal. Scientifically, I cannot explain why it was necessary to take the other types of seeds out of the bag once the experiment was started. The other varieties of seeds would add another variable, but that could be explained in the procedure, and all results could be included in the results and conclusion section.

Now for my opinion. All of your daughter’s project ideas would have made very good science projects, and controlled experiments could have been designed for the dog toy and the conductivity experiments (in another teacher’s class). At this age, it is important to encourage students to do science projects on a topic that they are interested in and try to make doing the project a positive experience. I’m glad that you are going to talk to the teacher about the effect that her teaching methods have had on your daughter. While acknowledging the teachers expertise in scientific investigations, perhaps you could suggest that she check out the teacher's forum on the Science Buddies website. We have excellent resources to support teachers and this might help if you think the problem is lack of experience. To me, it seems that the teacher knows what to do in a science project, but for some reason, was not able to explain the project well enough so that your daugther could design a well controlled experiment on her own.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Donna Hardy
Posts: 2230
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2005 12:45 pm

Re: How to make it so the teacher accepts this project?

Postby amyc » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:13 pm

Hi dani113077 - Donna has given you excellent advise in terms of how to encourage your daughter to move forward with her project -- as well as how to keep the project in perspective. I know it hasn't been a good experience, and that is unfortunate. It sounds like your daughter was enthusiastic about doing a project -- and open to a variety of kinds of science investigations, which is great.

I hope that Donna's advice about radish seeds may help give her a way to test within the parameters of her teacher's assignment and within the timeline.

As she finishes the project and works on her results and presentation -- and as you contemplate talking with the teacher -- I wanted to suggest a few additional resources at Science Buddies that may help you be prepared to talk about the project and the ways in which the project demonstrates the scientific method. The Project Guide ( contains information on all steps of a science project, so it's a good place to begin. Reviewing these steps will help as you talk with the teacher and find out more about her goals for the student projects (what does she want them to learn). You may be able to talk about the ways in which your daughter's experiment meets those goals.

Donna helped with the identification of variables in the project. I wanted to point out these pages on variables that will give you additional examples and background information:

Sample variables:

And information on data analysis:

I spoke with one of our staff scientists here at Science Buddies, and if your daughter was allowed to move ahead with the experimental design she'd started, she could approach graphing her data in two ways: graph the data as an aggregate (tea vs. water how many germinated) and by pair (seed type 1 in water vs. tea; seed type 2 in water vs. tea etc.).

If you have any additional questions, please post back here to this same thread at Ask an Expert.

I hope all goes well and your daughter is able to continue her project soon -- with a successful outcome!

Science Buddies
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