Science Project Details:

Comparison of multitasking abilities of boys and girls

Difficulty: Beginner 3
Cost ($): 20
Time required: < 3 days
1 hour for preparation, 2 days for the science project experiment
Availability of materials: Readily available
Very easily found
Required Skills: None
Safety concerns:

None

Abstract

This science fair project was done to find out if boys are better at multitasking than girls. The experiment was done by testing the time taken by boys and girls to complete a math test whilst multitasking.

Hypothesis

Boys will be able to complete the math test more quickly than the girls, while  multitasking.

Background

Multitasking

Multitasking refers to handling or performing more than one task at a time. The rapid pace of today’s modern lifestyle means that it is very difficult for many of us to get through our day without multitasking in some form or another. Multitasking does not require two or more tasks to be performed at the exact same time; instead, multitasking already occurs when our attention is divided between  different tasks in the hope of completing them faster, instead of completing them one at a time, in series.

Both men and women perform multitasking daily. We're actually multitasking when we read the newspaper while sipping a cup of coffee or having our breakfast. A mother who has to wake up early in the morning to get her children ready for school, prepare breakfast and at the same time get herself ready for work must multitask and manage her time well.
Although multitasking will help us to complete more jobs in a shorter amount of time, our attention to the details of the job may be diluted. Multitasking can be done to improve our productivity in jobs that are routine in nature or those that we are familiar with. However, it should be avoided when undertaking an unfamiliar task.
 

Scientific Terms

Multitasking, productivity

Materials

The materials required for this science fair project:

-    10 boys 13 years of age
-    10 girls 13 years of age
-    20 glasses of milk
-    40 cookies
-    20 MP3 players
-    2 sets of Mathematics test papers of equal difficulty
-    An examination hall with tables and chairs
-    A stopwatch

Procedure

1.    For this science fair project, the independent variable is the gender of the participants and whether the test is done while multitasking. The dependent variable is the average time taken by the students to complete the 2 tests. This is determined by measuring the time taken by the students to finish the tests and calculating the average time taken by all of the students. The constants (control variables) are the age of the students, the difficulty of the math test and the number of questions to be answered.

2.    Select 10 boys and 10 girls age 13, to take part in this science fair project. Prepare 2 sets of Mathematics test papers and make 20 copies of each test paper.

3.    On the 1st day of the experiment, have the 20 students brought into the examination hall and have them take the math test. Record the time taken for each student to complete the test. Calculate the average time taken by the participants to complete the test, and record your calculations according to their gender in a table, as shown below.

4.    On the 2nd day of experiment, bring the 20 students into the exam hall again. Place a glass of milk, 2 cookies and a MP3 player on each of their tables. Tell the students to listen to the MP3 player, drink the milk, eat the cookies and complete the Mathematics test at the same time. Record the time taken by each student to complete the test. Calculate the average time taken by the boys and girls to finish the tasks, and record your calculations in a table, as shown below.
 

Observation

The results show that the average time taken by the girls to complete the test while multitasking was shorter than the average time taken by the boys.
 

Gender Average time taken to complete Mathematics test (minutes)
Single task Multitasking
Boys 8.7 16.7
Girls 8.5 14.3


The above results were then plotted onto a graph, as shown below.

 multitasking science fair project

Conclusion

The hypothesis that the boys would be able to complete the Mathematics test faster than the girls while multitasking has been proven to be false.

Multitasking helps us to finish our routine jobs more quickly. It helps us to improve our productivity and manage our time better. However, there are also some dangers to multitasking. Smoking or talking on the cell phone while driving can distract the driver and cause accidents.
 

Also consider

The science fair project can be repeated on students from different age groups.

The experiment may be modified by giving the students other tests, such as writing an essay.
 

References

Human multitasking - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_multitasking

Multitasking and gender – beware the stereotypes - http://ezinearticles.com/?Multitasking-and-Gender---Beware-the-Stereotypes&id=2615419
 

Video(s)