Monday, 21 March 2016

Clever Cookie

Today I've been able to see the start of a new investigation.
Using the robin fledglings, we're going to look at their cognitive development by putting them through a series of tests to see how clever they are!

What really struck me today was the science thinking that went on before we even went into the bush to start the tests.  It really made me think about how careful you need to be when planning any kind of science investigation.  The protocol (or at school we call it the method) was very detailed and carefully thought through.  The importance of fairness and working consistently and systematically was obvious.  It was great to have the opportunity to talk through setting up an experiment and the importance of getting it right.
Latu started by weighing the bird (she was just checking to see they were healthy).

Then she put out a little wooden box with six holes drilled into the box.  She laid one mealworm into four holes - she did all of this while the little robin was close by watching.  The lid to each hole was placed next to the hole.  Then we stepped back and timed.  The robin had three minutes to get at least 3 out of the 4 mealworms.  This is the first level of the tests which get progressively more difficult.  To pass a level, they have to do the level correctly three out of the five trials each day.

The next level, sees worms going into four different holes (always make sure you mix up the order otherwise the robin might just learn to always go to the same holes) and the lid partially covering the hole.  Once agin, the robin has three minutes to get at least three of the worms.  Then they get a total of five chances to do this and they must do it correctly at least three times to then move on.

There was a lot to think about and it was great to be there to see the first robin giving it a go.  It will be interesting to compare results.

 Another useful technique was to film what happened.  We don't often do this at school but it is such a useful tool to look back on if we missed something or were unsure about what happened.  I'll be encouraging students back at school to do this.

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