What is a Constant in Science? - Lesson for Kids

What is a Constant in Science? - Lesson for Kids
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  • 0:03 Constants in Experiments
  • 0:59 Using a Constant
  • 1:58 What Else Can Be a Constant?
  • 2:34 Can You Determine the…
  • 3:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Corrie Boone

Corrie holds master's in elementary education, taught elementary ESL in the public schools for 5 years, and recently was teaching EFL abroad.

What's a constant in an experiment, and why is it important? Do you need a constant when performing science experiments? Can the constant change? Let's find out!

Constants in Experiments

Have you ever done a science experiment? Maybe you've done one at school in science class, for a science fair, or just for fun? Experiments are fun because they teach you a lot about how the world around you works. When doing science experiments, there are different parts of the experiment that must be included for the results to be accurate and valid.

Science experiments usually include an independent variable, dependent variable, and control. Remember, an independent variable is the part of the experiment the scientist changes or controls. The dependent variable is the part of the experiment that reacts to the independent variable. The control is the base experiment for comparison with other trials of the experiment. Science experiments also include something called constants. A constant is the part that doesn't change during the experiment.

Using a Constant

Let's apply these parts in an example experiment. Say we want to know how long it takes an ice cube to melt. You can easily perform this experiment by putting an ice cube in a bowl on your kitchen counter and timing how long it takes to melt. This base experiment (the ice cube melting at room temperature) becomes your control, and different outcomes will be compared to this control.

Now say we want to see how long it takes an ice cube to melt at different temperatures. This time, we put one ice cube outside in the sun and one in the fridge. Changing the temperature will affect how long the ice takes to melt. Since the temperature changes, temperature is the independent variable.

The amount of time it takes the ice cube to melt is the dependent variable, because this will change based on the independent variable. The constant in this experiment is the ice cube: it is the same size - at least at first - in each trial of the experiment.

What Else Can Be a Constant?

A constant must stay the same throughout the experiment. However, the constant can be many different aspects of the experiment.

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