Document Type

Science Education


This study was undertaken in an attempt to correct frequent student failure in understanding mathematical relationships describing physical phenomena. The study involved two sections of University of Iowa Laboratory High School ninth graders enrolled in the course entitled Energy/Space. The proposed solution to the problem was to allow the students to experimentally develop their own mathematical expressions to fit specific physical situations. This procedure replaced the laboratory approach which merely called upon the students to verify relationships which had been previously introduced in classroom discussion. The experimental approach, utilized by the students, involved a general discussion of the problem, materials needed, and an experimental design. From this point the students proceeded to conduct a series of trials, make observations, and draw conclusions based on these trials. Their experiments involved, for the most part, holding all of the variables constant save one in a series of steps, and finally experimentally deriving mathematical expressions to fit the physical situations. The results of the study suggested that the students understood the mathematical relationships better under these conditions than they did when they merely verified the relationships. Problems of lack of self-direction on the part of students were soon overcome as the students performed a number of these activities.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science





First Page


Last Page



©1963 Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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