You want salt with that? Skill development or application task?
The author describes her experience with Year 7 Science students, in which she deviated from the norm by introducing a practical applications-based project at the end of an assigned topic: to determine the salt content in potato chips. The innovation proved to be successful, in that students demonstrated independence and self-direction in carrying out the task, prior to which they had shown levels of disinterest and disengagement. The successful experiment led the author to question whether skill development tasks should be preceded by application tasks, or vice versa. A good middle-years Science program should incorporate scientific knowledge and literacy, develop analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, encourage and challenge students to examine contemporary issues and, above all, be relevant to the community that the students live in. [Author abstract, ed]