Share it! Science : Testing a Product with the Scientific Method: Mabel's Labels

Friday, November 6, 2015

Testing a Product with the Scientific Method: Mabel's Labels

scientific method
Have you ever wondered if a product was all it claimed to be? Is the quality worth the price? We don't always have the luxury of testing products before we buy them, but designing an experiment to test a product is a great way for children to practice using the Scientific Method.

I have had many students complete independent science projects that involve testing a product, from the effectiveness of different toothpastes to name brand groceries versus generic. It is a wonderful way to use science skills to explore a real-world idea.

science experiment label
©SBF

Mabel's Labels provided the labels for this experiment, however this post was not otherwise sponsored by Mabel's Labels, and all ideas are those of the author. This post contains affiliate links. Please see disclosures tab at the top of page for further details. 

We wanted to test our new Share it! Science labels from Mabel's Labels. So we devised an experiment.

Testable Question
Every good science experiment should begin with a testable question. "Will the pumpkin sink or float?" is an example of a testable question. "How do birds fly?" is not a testable question.

Our testable question for our label experiment was: "Will the label fall off or stay sticky after several trips through the dishwasher?" and a secondary question "Will a label on a water bottle fade or stay bright after spending a month in and out of a backpack?"

Developing a Hypothesis
Before any experiment, it is important to consider a hypothesis. This is an educated prediction. Often students, particularly younger ones are tempted to change their hypothesis to meet their actual results after they have completed an investigation. It is ok if your hypothesis ends up being incorrect! The best science experiments lead to new questions!

Our hypotheses for our Mabel's Labels experiment were: "Labels will begin to peel after 3 trips through the dishwasher." and "The label on the water bottle will fade from being scratched in the backpack." 
science experiment in dishwasher
©SBF
Methods
Before an experiment, it is important to plan how you will complete it. A good experiment is something that can be repeated by another person to get similar results.

Our methods:

Dishwasher Experiment
1. Put a label on a plastic food container
2. Take a photo of the label
3. Place food container in dishwasher
4. Run dishwasher on "Adaptive Wash" cycle
5. Take a photo and observe changes
6. Repeat steps 3-5 four times

Water Bottle Experiment
1. Put labels on 2 different water bottles
2. Take a photo of each label
3. Use water bottles normally (to school and sports practice)
4. Once a week, take a photo and observe changes
5. Repeat steps 3-4 for one month

Experiment and Make Observations
There are qualitative observations and quantitative observations. Qualitative observations describe the physical qualities of something, i.e. the leaf is red. Quantitative observations describe measurable qualities, i.e. the leaf has 3 points.

Quantitative observations are easier to analyze in a graph or table. They are not as subjective as qualitative observations. You can create a scale to measure qualitative observations in a quantitative way. This is what we did for our experiment.

Observation # 1= No change 2= Color faded slightly 3= Color faded slightly, and/or visible scratch or dent, and/or wear or peeling beginning on corners 4= Color faded more significantly, and/or 2-3 scratches or dents, and/or peeling beginning in multiple places 5= Color faded almost completely, and/or more than 3 scratches or dents, and/or significant peeling





































Results
Your results should accurately describe the observations in the experiment. Here are our data tables and photos:
Label science experiment


Dishwasher
Observation # 1= No change 2= Color faded slightly 3= Color faded slightly, and/or visible scratch or dent, and/or wear or peeling beginning on corners 4= Color faded more significantly, and/or 2-3 scratches or dents, and/or peeling beginning in multiple places 5= Color faded almost completely, and/or more than 3 scratches or dents, and/or significant peeling
1 1







2 1







3 1







4 1








label scientific method science experiment

Water Bottle- #1 White
Observation # 1= No change 2= Color faded slightly 3= Color faded slightly, and/or visible scratch or dent, and/or wear or peeling beginning on corners 4= Color faded more significantly, and/or 2-3 scratches or dents, and/or peeling beginning in multiple places 5= Color faded almost completely, and/or more than 3 scratches or dents, and/or significant peeling
Week 1 1- no change







Week 2



3- one small scratch



Week 3



3- same



Week 4





4- two small scratches


water bottle science experiment

Water Bottle- #2 Opaque
Observation # 1= No change 2= Color faded slightly 3= Color faded slightly, and/or visible scratch or dent, and/or wear or peeling beginning on corners 4= Color faded more significantly, and/or 2-3 scratches or dents, and/or peeling beginning in multiple places 5= Color faded almost completely, and/or more than 3 scratches or dents, and/or significant peeling
Week 1 1- no change







Week 2 1- no change







Week 3



3- one small scratch



Week 4



3- same




Our data could also be made into a graph for analysis.


Conclusions
We found that neither of our hypotheses were correct. After 4 trips through the dishwasher we saw no perceivable changes to the label. Despite normal wear and tear we only saw some small scratches on the labels on the water bottles. Their colors did not fade. Although we were incorrect, we were happy to see the quality of the labels!

It is important to consider the variables and conditions of the experiment when analyzing results. Here are things we might change and some new questions to consider before doing the experiment again, in order to be more accurate.
  • We would assure that the container was in the same position in the dishwasher during each wash cycle. We need to take into account the make-up of the dishwasher. How can we control for the level of food or grease that is in the water?
  • We would repeat the dishwasher experiment many more times.
  • How do we control for conditions with the water bottle experiment? Each day is different. (Maybe specific controllable tests.)
  • We would observe the water bottles for a longer period of time. 
  • Control lighting and resolution of photos for more accurate data
It is ok for an experiment to result in further questions! In fact, most experiments do!

We can conclude from our results that Mabel's Labels really hold up to daily life! I would definitely purchase them again. What sort of product testing could you introduce to your children or students to help them practice the scientific method?

The Stocking Stuffer Combo

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