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Online course

Basic Science: Understanding Experiments

This hands-on course introduces you to science-based skills through simple and exciting physics, chemistry and biology experiments

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Basic Science: Understanding Experiments

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Why join the course?

This practical, hands-on course aims to help you start thinking like a scientist by carrying out experiments at home and making scientific observations.

You will carry out simple experiments to extract the DNA from fruit or vegetables, observe osmosis in action and bake a potato to destruction! You’ll also investigate how different liquids behave when frozen and how much water an everyday food item contains.

As you carry out these experiments you will develop important science-based skills including observation, record-keeping, data analysis and how to control an experiment. After examining your results, you will share them with other learners and discuss your findings.

You may also be interested in joining Basic Science: Understanding Numbers.

All Open University science courses presented on FutureLearn are produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsJANET SUMNER: Through hands-on practical science, this course will give you insights into how to conduct scientific experiments and how to use the data gathered to understand the natural world.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsUsing tools already available to you, you'll start by asking the question, how much water is there in a potato? And to do that, you'll begin your first experiment to gather data-- 74 grams-- and get introduced to some essential skills needed to do science practical work. By the end of the course, you'll have developed the skills needed to study science further, including careful observation, systematic note taking, interpreting your data, and great experimental design. What we're asking the learners to do now in keeping a study journal could be the start of something big going forward into the future.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 secondsHAZEL RYMER: Beginning of their scientific careers.

Skip to 1 minute and 29 secondsJANET SUMNER: And that is DNA, the blueprint of life. These will all give you an idea of how scientists understand the world around us.

What topics will you cover?

  • Evaporation during heating, quantified by weight
  • Relationship between density and state of matter by freezing fluids
  • Living organisms and the requirements for life
  • Extraction of DNA from fruit

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Demonstrate and carry out a basis scientific experiment
  • Investigate and test any hypothesis using experimental techniques
  • Record and analyse results from your experiments
  • Discuss and share ideas with fellow students online

Who is the course for?

This course is intended for anyone with an interest in making scientific observations through experimentation, and does not require any previous experience of studying the subject.

The experiments do involve both hot and cold temperatures so younger learners may need supervision. As per FutureLearn’s terms and conditions - if you are under 13, you must ask an adult to create an account using their own name and communicate in discussions on your behalf.

All of the experiments can be carried out with items you would find in a typical kitchen, but before you start, you should probably make sure you have the following:

Shopping list

  • a cucumber
  • a kiwi
  • methylated spirits (or a bottle of vodka!)
  • olive oil
  • a potato
  • salt
  • sugar
  • washing-up liquid
  • yeast
  • distilled water

Equipment list

  • cling film
  • oven gloves
  • a freezer
  • an ice cube tray
  • kitchen scales
  • a marker pen
  • a microwave or oven
  • a paper clip
  • a printer
  • a ruler
  • a vegetable peeler
  • drinking glasses
  • knife

Who will you learn with?

Hazel Rymer

Citizen Scientist interested in all things new in science and technology. My research involves making measurements on active volcanoes.

Luke Mander

I am a lecturer in Earth Sciences at The Open University. My research aims to understand the origin, evolution and ecology of tropical rainforests.

Who developed the course?

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

Supporters

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For $54 you'll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

Image access mobile

  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Access to tests

When you upgrade you’ll have access to any tests during the course.

Image tests mobile

  • Validate your learning
  • Ensure you have mastered the material
  • Qualify for a certificate

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to take any tests and score over 70%. You don’t get access to tests if you choose to take a course for free.

Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

Image certificate mobile

  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your LinkedIn or CV

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete, and score over 70% on any course tests.

Upgrade


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