Best Raincoat Material

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Best Raincoat Material
Best Raincoat Material
April showers bring May flowers! Your task is to decide which
material would make the best raincoat. You will be given 4
different types of fabric. As a class, we will brainstorm several
criteria for what is important about raincoats and what qualities
the fabric should have. You will then decide how you will test
for these (making sure they are fair tests), conduct your tests,
represent your data, and then draw some conclusions about
which material worked best according to data collected. Finally,
you will present your results to the class and support your
decision with evidence.
Best Raincoat Material
Copyright ©, 2006. Exemplars. All rights reserved.
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Best Raincoat Material
Suggested Grade Span
3-5
Task
April showers bring May flowers! Your task is to decide which material would make the best
raincoat. You will be given 4 different types of fabric. As a class, we will brainstorm several
criteria for what is important about raincoats and what qualities the fabric should have. You will
then decide how you will test for these (making sure they are fair tests), conduct your tests,
represent your data, and then draw some conclusions about which material worked best
according to data collected. Finally, you will present your results to the class and support your
decision with evidence.
Big Idea and Unifying Concept
Cause and effect
Physical Science Concept
Properties of matter
Design Technology Concept
Design constraints and advantages
Mathematics Concepts
Using numerical data and representation
Measurement
Time Required for the Task
Approximately two 45-minute sessions.
Context
There are several ways in which I have used this task. I have used it as part of a unit on liquids,
to investigate the concept of absorption; I have also used it as a means to help students design
better testing criteria and procedures, as a way to reinforce science process skills and, finally,
as a fun activity to do in April, when the rain seems never-ending!
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What the Task Accomplishes
This task allows the teacher to observe many science process skills. Students plan and conduct
a fair test. They collect and record results, which are represented in some form, and then draw
meaningful and relevant conclusions that are justified with evidence from their investigation.
The task can also be used as an assessment at any point during the year when students are
familiar with the process of designing and conducting fair tests. If used in conjunction with a
study of liquids, then those relevant concepts can be assessed as well.
How the Student Will Investigate
Before beginning this task, as a group we will decide on the criteria for what makes a good
raincoat. These may include things such as: dries quickly, doesn’t get your skin wet, has
strength when wet, or holds a lot of water. The criteria may vary from class to class. It is
important to come up with a list of ideas that students agree on and that are testable. (Some
teacher guidance may be necessary: see guiding questions section.) Then in pairs, students
will decide on how to test for these. For example, if drying quickly is important, students may
decide to test this by timing how long it takes for a drop of water to dry on the material, or by
using a hair drier to do this. Or they may decide that keeping their skin dry is important and test
to see how many drops the material holds before getting their skin wet. As they design their
tests, students will need to consider such things as using the same number and size of water
drops for each test, holding the hair dryer the same distance from each fabric, etc. Then,
students will draw conclusions based on their test results, deciding which fabric would make the
best raincoat. In their conclusions, they will need to support their decisions with test results
(data collected). Finally, they will communicate their findings to the class.
Interdisciplinary Links and Extensions
Science
There are many scientific connections, especially to properties of liquids. Also, this activity
lends itself to review, reinforcement and/or assessment of understanding and applying the
scientific method. This task can also be integrated with units on weather or design technology.
Students can also make observations of rain drops on objects outside, have water drop races
on different surfaces, or “pile” drops of water on pennies to investigate surface tension. Any
time this type of testable question is used, you can ask different groups of students to see if
they can follow another group’s procedures and replicate its results. This is what scientists do.
Language Arts
There were many opportunities for integration of language arts. We often do raindrop poems,
using words that describe a rainy day, written on paper raindrops. There are a number of
wonderful picture books to read, such as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, after which
students can write their own creative stories about strange things coming out of the sky. Shape
poems (the words of the poem create a shape or picture of something) that describe rain
clouds, raincoats, etc., are a fun way to reinforce use of adjectives and descriptive phrases
about rain.
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Social Studies
Students can research and graph rainfall amounts in different regions. What areas get the most
rain? the least? What is the average rainfall in their county, state, country, etc.? Students could
investigate the difference between waterproof and water resistant, reading clothing labels and
contacting manufacturers, via their 800 numbers, with questions. Then, tests comparing the
materials could be designed and conducted. Is the product as effective as it says it is?
Mathematics
There are several math concepts and tools use during this task. Students will need to use
measurement and related tools, such as clocks or stop watches, and measure water drop
amounts to ensure fair testing. Graphing results is another possible extension of this activity.
Teaching Tips and Guiding Questions
It is important to have a variety of fabrics available to test. Make sure that all of the samples
have equal chances of working (that one, such as the actual rain coat material, is not obviously
better than the others). As students are brainstorming criteria, it is helpful to ask them how they
would test each one. “Thinking aloud” with students should be done over and over again before
they will begin to do it on their own.
You want to ensure that the criteria are testable. Review the idea of fair testing and ask
students how they will design their tests. Some questions to help guide their thinking are:
• How would you test that idea? Can it be tested fairly? Explain how you would do it. What
variable(s) must stay the same each time?
• How many drops should you use? Do you want to simulate a light shower or a downpour?
How will you be sure to make it the same for each trial?
• How will you be able to tell if it repels water? What will you do to test this? What will you
watch for?
• How will you represent your data? Could you use a chart? a graph?
• Why is that fabric better than the others? How did you decide this? Can you support your
decision using the results you got?
• What data have you collected?
Concepts to be Assessed
(Unifying concepts/big ideas and science concepts to be assessed using the Exemplars
Science Rubric under the criterion: Science Concepts and Related Content)
Physical Science – Properties of Matter: Students observe physical properties and
characteristics of materials and reactions of liquids.
Design Technology – Constraints and Advantages: Students observe that some materials
are better than others, depending on the task and characteristics of the materials.
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Scientific Method: Students describe cause-effect relationships with some justification, using
data and prior knowledge. Students determine patterns of change and/or which kinds of change
are happening by making a graph or table of measurements. Students observe and explain
reactions when variables are controlled (cause and effect).
Mathematics: Students represent and analyze data, appropriately identify trends and patterns,
and use numerical data and (precise) measurements.
Skills to be Developed
(Science process skills to be assessed using the Science Exemplars Rubric under the criteria:
Scientific Procedures and Reasoning Strategies, and Scientific Communication Using Data)
Scientific Method: Planning and conducting an investigation, predicting, observing, using
measurement tools, collecting and recording data, using data to draw conclusions and
communicating.
Other Science Standards and Concepts Addressed
Scientific Method: Students predict, observe, describe, investigate and explain phenomena.
Students control variables. Students design a “fair” test, collect data and analyze the data to
draw conclusions.
Scientific Theory: Students look for evidence that explains why things happen and modify
explanations/designs when new observations are made.
Physical Science – Properties of Matter: Students describe and sort objects and materials
according to observations of similarities and differences of physical properties. Students
observe physical properties of liquids and their reactions.
The Designed World: Students choose materials carefully based on their characteristics.
Mathematics: Students use measuring tools appropriately in scientific inquiry. Students use
data to draw conclusions, describe events, answer questions and provide evidence for scientific
explanation. Students understand that challenging misconceptions is essential to scientific
inquiry.
Suggested Materials
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Four different types of fabrics (jeans, linen, cotton, leather or suede are some examples)
Eye droppers (one/two students)
Hair dryer
Water in easy-to-pour bottles
Cups or bowls and measuring cups
Clock or stopwatch
Recording sheets
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Copyright ©, 2006. Exemplars. All rights reserved.
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If you cut small pieces of cloth ahead of time, students will not need scissors. Styrofoam meat
trays or sheets of plastic can be used under the fabrics to catch the water and make clean up
easy.
Note: Be careful when using hair dryers, which should not be near water. I suggest setting up a
designated hair-dryer area that can be easily supervised by the teacher.
Possible Solutions
Some fabrics do work better than others, but the results that the students get will depend upon
the work they do during their investigation and the fabrics that are selected for this test. A
testable question should be stated and conclusions should refer to what was tested. Check to
make sure that the students’ conclusions accurately reflect their results (actual data collected
and recorded). The students’ solutions must include all the steps in their investigation, a
representation of the results gathered, and their conclusions. Charts and units of measure
(records, drops, etc.) should be labeled.
Task-Specific Assessment Notes
Novice
There were no examples of this level of work! This was exciting to see and demonstrated to me
that, by this time of year, my students are feeling comfortable with the inquiry process. An
example of Novice work, however, might include things such as an unlabeled representation of
data, an incomplete or inaccurate conclusion, or a task not completed. Proper notation may not
be present, or the tests may not have been conducted in a fair manner. Through teacher
observation, it might be noted that the student did not use measurement tools or record data
appropriately.
Apprentice
The student states the testable question and makes a prediction. The student uses proper data
notation, such as seconds and number of drops, but does not include proper notation for how
“strong when wet” was tested, making the data unclear for this portion of the test. The chart is
only partially labeled and does not include what each category represents. The conclusion is
accurate, but his/her reasoning and evidence are not present to help support his/her conclusion.
Practitioner
The student states the testable question and makes a prediction. The chart is well-labeled and
clear. Proper notation is used consistently, making the data understandable. S/he then adds the
“winner” for each category, which helps his/her to decide the fabric that tested the best. This is
clear evidence of scientific reasoning and of organizing data for analysis. His/her conclusion is
clear and states why the multicolored material was best.
Note: At the upper-grade levels, I would expect an even more detailed conclusion that relies on
specific data from the tests. In addition, the conclusion would perhaps involve an observation
over and above what was tested for.
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Expert
The student states the testable question and makes a knowledgeable prediction based on
his/her observation that the “green felt strong.” The chart is well-labeled, and proper notation is
used throughout. S/he circles the “winners” in each category to help make a decision on which
material performed the best overall – clear evidence of reasoning to organize data for analysis.
The student’s conclusion is clear and indicates good reasoning. The student may also include a
personal note explaining the outcome (for example, that not leaking is the most important
characteristic of a good raincoat, and that is why the student chose one material rather than
another). Conclusions show clear evidence of reasoning and extended thinking. Again, at the
upper-grade levels, I would expect even more detail in the student's conclusion, supported by
specific data from the tests.
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Copyright ©, 2006. Exemplars. All rights reserved.
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Apprentice
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Practitioner
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Expert
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