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Prioritize Iteration

Have students use their preliminary results to adjust and design a better subsequent experiment


Fundamentally, iteration is important because it allows each student to explore deeply. Students must use their results, reflect on their meaning, and propose improved experimental conditions. Over time, students will learn that they can learn from their own outputs, generating novel meaning in the process.

Iteration Process

  1. Design a preliminary experiment. Don’t overthink or delay starting this, as you will need all the time you can get later on.
  2. Try your experiment. Be intentional and organized, taking notes of all actual steps and observations throughout, but allow for a little flexibility from the original experimental design: perfect is the enemy of done.
  3. Review your experiment and reflect on the meaning of the results. Identify different types of error (measurement error, systematic error, etc.). Do the variations observed reflect meaningful differences between conditions? If so, how do you know and how can you confirm? If not, why not and how can you collect more meaningful info?
  4. Tweak your experiment and try again. Don’t drift too far from the original experimental goal unless a clear new question emerged (that’s rare!). Try again with optimized initial conditions, controls, and/or data collection strategies (e.g. methods for collecting data that will better measure the types of error present or not).
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