Description of a laboratory practice: difference between density and concentration (g/L).
Duration: 5 weeks
Age and number of students: 14-15 year-old students (we carried out the activity with 2 classes of around 17 students each).
Organization of the activities:
1. The Physics and Chemistry teacher works with the students on the specific vocabulary and expressions that they will need for this topic, and which will, therefore, be used during their presentations.
2. In groups of three, the students conduct the experiment at the laboratory and note down the different steps, together with the measurements and results obtained. During the following week, they hand in the corresponding report to the Physics teacher.
3. With the help of the English teacher, students will learn how to prepare and organise their presentations: by practising key words in context, connectors of sequence, main tenses and structure.
4. Students elaborate a draft of their presentations and receive feedback both from the content-subject teacher and the language teacher.
5. Finally, during the English class, students produce 2 different types of outcomes:
5.1. Half of the class will give an oral presentation (individually) explaining the laboratory procedure and results obtained.
5.2. The other half will produce a written description or report of the same experiment.
(Roles will be changed during a second project).
Results achieved: All students were able to produce both final tasks.
Challenges and how they were addressed: one of the main problems was to make students understand the importance of planning all middle steps before delivering a final product (their typical reaction being writing or speaking without previous or minimum preparation). To avoid this, students were informed from the beginning that part of their mark would come from preparation and attention to feedback.
Teachers: close collaboration between different departments (English, Physics and Chemistry), including joint evaluation.
Students: understanding of the scientific procedure; development of time-management and planning skills.
Areas of improvement: Attention to deadlines. Insisting on the importance of learning from feedback.