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Science Process Skills
Communication is the Key



Communication is the Key
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   10.07

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    operational, volcanologists, coating, communication, lollipops, unlock, public, lollipop, covering, describe, provide, record, visual, occur, however, scientific
     content words:    Charms Blow PopŠ


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Communication is the Key
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     After scientists unlock mysteries in their laboratories, they need to provide the key for the rest of the world to understand their discoveries. That key comes in the form of the science process skill called communication. Once scientists have completed their observations, measurements, and experiments, they need to communicate or record their results. Scientists define words operationally, describe observations of objects and events, and construct visual aids to explain their results.
 
2     When scientists define words operationally, they describe the words by their actions. For example, let's say that you are researching an important test question in class. You are trying to find out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Charms Blow PopŠ. Before you can start the actual experiment, you need to define the word lick. As a class, you determine that a complete lick would be "from the bottom of the lollipop to the top of the lollipop on one side." This is important because even though everyone eats lollipops by putting them in their mouths, we have different ways of licking the lollipops. Your class would also need to define operationally how you would know you reached the center of the lollipop. This could be accomplished by saying, "Reaching the center means the candy coating is not covering any portion of the bubblegum." Operational definitions help scientists to narrow the guidelines they will use to help study objects and events.
 
3     Once you have gathered data about your lollipop licks, you need to record that data. Like scientists, you can write your information in a data log or on a data sheet. Your information may include the average number of licks that students took before they reached the center of the lollipop. You may also include measurements taken of the lollipops before and after the experiment. This information would be useful to determine the thickness of the candy coating on the lollipop. Your partner could also write what he or she observed (drool and all) as you made your way to the center of the blow pop. If scientists did not record the data they acquired after experiments and observing events and objects over time, we would not have information about some of the world's most famous inventions.

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