There are two sets of hands-on activities. The ones I have been running in a chemical lab for the last 10 years, and activities for the dorm or kitchen to capture a bit of the experimental spirit when the lab is not available.
Students work in groups of three. To ensure engagement, each student has a specific role, which rotates every session. One student is responsible for researching safety measures and for learning and teaching procedures ("Technician"), one student is responsible for experimental observations and measurements ("Record Keeper"), and one student is responsible for keeping the group on track and thinking about what needs to be done next ("Group Leader"). This does not mean students have to work on their areas on their own, it just means they should make sure these aspects are covered. Before the group leaves the lab, they do a preliminary analysis of the experimental data and formulate their claims. At the conclusion of the lab, the record keeper sends out the collected data (and procedures, if warranted) to everyone, and the group leader writes up the lab report in time to submit it at the start of the next lab. For the dorm/kitchen experiments, this will be modified a bit as experiments are done at three separate sites. The group meets remotely before lab and discusses which experiments are possible t each site (depending on available material); the technician is responsible for this meeting. The record keeper is still responsible for gathering or packaging data collected at the three sites, and the group leader is still responsible for writing up a combined lab report.
The lab instructions and the format of the lab report is modeled after "Using the Science Writing Heuristic as a Tool for Learning from Laboratory Investigations in Secondary Science". Each lab has a 'beginning" question. Typically, there is a write-up with procedures for one lab, and a follow-up lab where students can design an experiment to answer a follow-up question using the available materials and constrained by safety and logistics consideration (i.e. students have to discuss their plan with the instructor in advance). The lab report has the following sections:
- Beginning question (what is the experiment designed to figure out)
- Procedures (if different from write-up or own experiment)
- Evidence (experimental observations and measurements)
- Claim (evidence-based statements about what happened)
- Reflections (comparison to expectations or other groups' results) and next questions
Before you write your first lab report, please read the instructions and look at the grading rubric.