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Based partially on a comment from my field instructor (who observed my non-focus class

the day they did lab 2.10), I think that the two conservation of mass labs shown here and at least
one of the ones that will be done this coming week could be combined into one activity day and
have one lab report. There was a lot of dead time and time for chatting that I had accidentally
built into my scheduling because I have been taking things slow with the students (since they are
freshman and this is their first lab class). But the lab did go mind-numbingly slow that day and
their conversations were off topic. By having them do several labs in that same amount of time,
it forces them to keep busy. It also gives them enough of their own data to hopefully see the
pattern that mass does not change as a system changes; I felt that we did not really have enough
data to be finding that pattern at the point we had gotten through (although the post-lab that I will
do with them when I next see them will include a information about the law of conservation of
matter, since my mentor would like it to be presented this way). I think this would also give
opportunity to use the saved time to work with the law and perhaps do more application of it
then I believe is planned currently (again, based on my mentors suggestions).
Also, based on Andy pointing out suggestions for what sort of predictions the students
could be making (doing both volume and mass at once, instead of one at a time), I think I would
removed a lot of the volume lab activities or, at least, have them done second. I like the idea of
having the students focus on making only one prediction (since my freshman seem so very
confused and stressed enough right now), and mass is the more important of the two, so it should
be the focus. Also, during the sequence, I remember a couple of instances when several
individuals would ask me about how to do certain measurements; they kept thinking they should
be using a balance when they needed to find volume or using a graduated cylinder when they
needed to find mass. Part of this I can contribute to them still learning the lab equipment, but I
think a part of this was also that they were confusing what they needed to be doing and thought
they should be repeating the technique they used in a previous lab. I think one way of handling
this would be to focus on what should have been my focus to being with: the labs surrounding
the conservation of mass. I think by focusing on this and getting through the conversation about
the law first, the demonstrations of volume not doing what you expect could become a discrepant
event like I had thought it would be for the students (hence why I originally designed the
sequence as a PEOE) that shows only mass (and not volume) is conserved. Also, my reasoning
for giving the warm-up on the day for lab 2.10 goes back to just being a hypothesis that helps to
elicit prior knowledge/logic instead of being damage control (I wanted to ask it, out of concern
that the students would apply the results for the volumes in lab 2.3 to the mass in lab 2.10).
Related to the above alteration, I think I would use different and/or more demonstrations
to show that volume is unreliable because it isnt conserved (like mass). While two examples
offered here are sort of cool (the air being displaced and causing the results to be lower than
expected; the volume supposedly decreasing when the rock salt dissolves) they were also very
strange or, at least, the students expressions and responses made me think that they found them
strange. Personally, I think showing how volume can vary with temperature (perhaps by showing
them what happens to a balloon when its placed in liquid nitrogen) would be more useful and a
way of more quickly demonstrating what some of the problems with using volume can be.
I also think that I would definitely teach this sequence as a TOPE sequence from the beginning.
While seeing their initial predictions was nice, those were artifacts of the original PEOE plan. I
feel like my other change of combining more of the labs together also fits very well with the idea
of this being a TOPE sequence.