Adherence to Instructions by Gender
Purpose or Problem
The purpose of this project is to determine if a behavioral difference exists between high-school male and female students regarding their attitude toward following instructions.
The Christmas holiday (or your birthday) is approaching, and a wrapped present with your name on it is sitting on the kitchen table. Can you resist shaking it and trying to determine its contents? Would you try to unwrap it just enough to peek inside, and then tape it back up again? Or, do you have the willpower and strong character to resist the temptation?
If a box labeled "Do Not Open" is placed in your school's cafeteria or another high-traffic area, do you think some students will open it? Do you think more males than females will open it? What do you think would motivate those students to open it: Curiosity? A lack of willpower? A tendency not to heed advice or to be defiant?
Hypothesize that a larger percentage of high-school male students will attempt to open a box labeled "Do Not Open" than females (or hypothesize just the opposite).
- Framing pieces of 1×2 lumber
- Small wood screws
- Two small hinges
- Cabinet handle
- Paper and pencil
- Marker pens
- Adhesive tape (or glue)
- Camcorder (or video tape recorder with camera)
- Use of a saw (have adult supervision if a power saw is used)
- Permission to set up your project in the school cafeteria during lunch
- Possible adult supervision, if needed
Using plywood for the sides and 1×2 or similar framing pieces of lumber, construct a box about one-foot square in size. The top side of the box must be hinged with a handle, so it can be opened. We want the box to look like it is very easy to open by simply lifting a handle.
With a large marking pen and paper (or use a computer and printer), print "Do Not Open" in big letters on the paper, and tape (or glue) it to the top of the box.
On another piece of paper, write "Please do not tell anyone what you saw inside this box" and place that paper inside the box at the bottom.
Get permission to set the box in a prominent place in the school cafeteria during lunch. The location should be where nearly everyone must pass by the box.
At a safe distance away, set up a camcorder or a camera with a video tape recorder, so you can record students without their knowledge as they are standing at the box. Turn the recorder on and let it run throughout the lunch period.
Later, use the video tape to total the number of males who approached the box and read the sign, and the number of females who approached and read the box. Also, log the number of males who opened the lid and the number of females who opened the lid.
Calculate the percentage of males who opened the lid. Divide the number of male students who lifted the lid by the total number of males who approached and read the sign. Then, multiply this answer by 100 (to arrive at the percent). Similarly, compute the percent for female students.
Write down the results of your experiment. Document all observations and data collected.
Come to a conclusion as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct.
- Survey the students who opened the box and ask if they can explain why they disobeyed the sign.
- Hypothesize that adult teachers and staff will show greater regard for instructions and won't open the box, and they will have a lower percentage of "openers."
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.