Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Help Kids Develop and Conduct Scientific Tests with an EduProtocol

Yesterday I wrote about how I have designed an "EduProtocol" to guide students through the design process. For those of you not familiar with an educational protocol, here is a quick description from Jon Corippo and Marlena Hebern's new book The EduProtocol Field Guide: 16 Student-Centered Lesson Frames for Infinite Learning Possibilities.

"EduProtocols are customizable, frames that use your content to create lessons to help students master academic content, think critically, and communicate effectively while creating and working collaboratively,"  

Kids are good at trying stuff out but not
 at developing scientific testing procedures.
A key factor in the design process is the testing of prototypes. Although I have found that my K-4 STEM students "get" the overall idea constantly designing, testing, and tweaking, they struggle with creating scientifically sound tests to know how well their prototypes work.   

Our elementary STEM program uses the Next Generation Engineering standards, specifically.

Students who demonstrate understanding can:
•3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
•3-5-ETS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
•3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

One of my independent professional growths goals this year has been to improve students' abilities to nail that third goal. I mentioned earlier that I find kids struggle to focus on the finer points of testing beyond "just trying something out." From an instructional side, I too have struggled with how to effectively teach this. It just seemed inherent to me that kids would understand controlled conditions and how one variable effects the don't.

Protocols to the rescue. For the last month I have been working to develop a protocol which effectively helps the learner see all of the variables in play, specifically independent, dependent, and controlled variables.

I finally have a functioning protocol developed that I am finding guides kids through the steps as well as provides some onboard vocabulary support that helps them keep the terminology under control. It is also deepening their understanding of the cause and effect relationships between all of the variables. 

I have also included a second page that helps students record data, make sense of their test results, and reflect on their testing design. 

Google Docs version is available here for you to view, download, or make a copy and tweak as you would like. Share all you would like but please don't sell it. I hope it can help your kids as much as it is helping mine. 

Creative Commons License
Design Process Student Protocol by Andy Losik is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at


  1. Thanks for sharing this one and the design process protocol!

  2. All sites are working.. This is great thing..A huge thanks from my side…:)
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