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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.

About 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.

Requirements

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

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £39.00

Statement of Participation £34.00