Scientific Method: Consumer Testing in the Classroom

Those whiners who constantly mewl “why do I need to learn this?” can be in charge of this lesson – let them brainstorm ways to use the scientific method in testing consumer products. The following are just samples; have your kids come up with other products to test, and devise ways to test them.

Project Ideas:

* Popcorn: which pops better, fluffier or tastes better? (One brand may not be best in all categories.)
* TV: Which channels have fewer commercials? Which shows have the most interesting commercials?
* Weights & Measures: Devise a way to test accuracy of scales, then have each student check their bathroom scales at home.
* Laundry Soap: test on stains soaking in jars of solutions.
* Dog Food: Students can bring in pieces of dog food from home. Make a blind taste test to send home to try on their pets, giving the pets a choice between different brands, to see which food they eat first.
* Paper Towels: measure how much water will be soaked up for a given size of towel. Also, how accurate are the sizes given on the paper towel packaging?
* Soft Drinks: use a graduated cylinder to measure soft drink volumes from 3 or 4 different brands.

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