The notion of "fair-test" experiments comes from the
United Kingdom, where this phrase is used as more accessible
alternative for students than them doing the "scientific
method." Developmentally, quite young children (age
6-7) have a workable notion of fairness, which they
can apply to test settings, and involves maintaining
experimental conditions across tests and controlling
variables so that usable data gets generated.
In MOVIE 1, Vanderbilt's Richard Lehrer distinguished
between students conducting tests and controlling variables
and designing investigations. He suggests that variable
control is less challenging than having students suggest
ways to investigate questions they pose, and reason
about the tradeoffs of different investgation designers.
What questions does Lehrer suggest raising with students?
Did the three teachers doing the Model Parachute activity
in Variables &
Fair Tests have students designing investigations,
or doing something else?