Quote from Carl Sagan, American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences.
Procedural Thinking: Writing Clear Directions!
The ability to create and follow clear, ordered plans is useful in many aspects of life. However, being able to provide a detailed, precise plan that others can follow can be challenging. A plan that contains all the information needed to replicate an experiment includes three parts: a list of materials needed, a set of instructions on how to use these materials, and descriptions of the intermediate results.
In today’s activity, students got the chance to practice giving precise instructions. Each student received a bag containing two identical sets of construction blocks. Using one set of the colorful construction blocks, students were given time to build a creation of their choosing and write a set of instructions detailing each step of the building process. The purpose of this was for each student to write down instructions that are detailed enough so that others could replicate their models. Once the students were done building and writing, they passed their instructions and blocks on to classmates to build by following the directions. Afterwards they compared the originals to the recreations and were able to see how more detailed and precise instructions had led to more accurate results.
As a class we talked about ways students could improve their directions to make it easier for another person to follow. Some of the ideas that students came up with to help improve their directions were: be detailed, write clearly, be specific, go step-by-step, put steps in order, draw pictures, and give the directions a title.