The English Oxford Dictionary defines an experimenter as a person who “tries out new ideas, methods and activities”. Experimenters are adventurers, path finders, seekers; they are inquisitive and have “an openness to try, reflect & learn from new approaches, pedagogy and technologies to support student learning” (Bates 2014).
If you’ve ever had the fun and sometimes frustrating experience of watching a young child feed herself when she discovers the “magic of gravity,” you have witnessed first-hand how we are all born experimenters. As the young experimenter throws her spoon or food on the floor and the nearby adult picks it up, the child monitors, analyzes, and evaluates the actions with all the precision of a scientist. And then she does it again. And again. And again.
Older children display similar behavior. Over 75% of Grade 5 students will attempt to solve a nonsensical math problem that adults don’t even begin to try (Bransford, 1983).
An example of a nonsensical and unsolvable problem might be: There are 26 sheep and 10 goats on a ship. How old is the captain?
Obviously, this kind of behaviour is beneficial: it prevents us from wasting time trying to solve a problem that has no solution. While math questions with unknowable variables are uncommon for most of us, we could, however, often benefit from tapping into the enthusiasm and flexible mindset young children bring to problem solving.
It is not necessary for you to do any of the other modules, before doing this one. This module can be explored in any relationship to the others. The Experimenter Module is designed to integrate elements of being a scholar, and curating while collaborating in a network, who teaches for learning, using technology. Experimenting weaves through all of our work.