A useful scaffold for generating questions that are testable is to phrase a question as:
'If we change ________________ what happens to ___________________?'
For instance, if the investigation is about how well the type of construction material helps houses to withstand movement or destruction by a tsunami then this could be phrased:
'If we change the building material of the house what happens to the distance the house is moved by a wave?'
Applying Cows Moo Softly
- what is CHANGED – the construction material (cardboard, pop sticks, Lego blocks)
- what is MEASURED – the distance that the building moves from its original location
- what is kept the SAME – dimensions of the model house, placement of the model house before each wave, size and strength of the ‘tsunami’.
The following sequence of images demonstrates one approach for investigating the effects of a ‘tsunami’ on ‘houses’.
Lego house placed on land before the tsunami.
Creating the tsunami. Note that the raised leg height on top of the white cones is the same each time.
After the tsunami the house has moved and this position can be quantified with measurements.
What is a Testable Question?
The list of questions in the activity below, posed by students, shows that a high percentage of questions suggested by students need to be clarified or modified to be able to be used in an investigation. The use of science mentors can be of great assistance to cope with the logistics.
Can you identify which of these questions are testable Stage 3 questions on Disasters? Use the quiz to check your answers with the suggested answers and comments.