Scientific Method

What is Science?
Science is a method people use to study the natural world. It is the process that uses observation and investigation to gain knowledge. YOU USE IT EVERYDAY!!!

Six steps of the S. M.
State the problem: Why is that doing that? Or Why is this not working?
Gather information: Research problem and get background info
Form a hypothesis: a possible explanation for the problem using what you know and what you observe.
Test the hypothesis: Make observations, build a model and relate to real-life or experiment. Experiment: testing the effects of one thing on another using controlled conditions.
Variable: a quantity that can have more than a single value. (Dependent vs independent)
Constant: a factor that does not change when other variables change.
Control: the standard by which the test results can be compared
Analyze data: recording data and organizing it into tables and graphs.
Draw conclusions: based on your analysis of your data, you decide whether or not your hypothesis is supported.
Science Spot Website. Great info!! This comes with overhead and kids' worksheet. Scientific Method & More (T. Trimpe, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)

I use a variety of lessons and activities to introduce students to the process of scientific inquiry. During the two days of the unit, we discuss the unit notes and students complete the "Drops on a Penny" lab. During the lab, students investigate cohesion as they try to fit as many drops of water as possible on one side of a penny. As we discuss the lab results, I ask students to identify the various steps involved in the experiment (hypothesis, testing, analysis, and conclusion) and challenge them to evaluate the reliability of the collected data. I use the SpongeBob worksheets (described below) to discuss variables and controls as well as relate the concepts to the "Drops on a Penny" lab. We also discuss safety rules for the science classroom to lay the "ground rules" for future lab work. I have also provided worksheets for Independent Investigations, which are used throughout the remainder of the school year to provide opportunities for students to use the scientific method. More information about the Independent Investigations has been provided in that section below.

Scientific Method Unit Notes - Scientific Method Notes (pdf) - The note worksheet I use to introduce a basic version of the "scientific method". The download includes a student worksheet as well as an answer key that can be used to make an overhead master. This page is just one of the unit note pages. I have students staple other worksheets from this unit to the note page. At the end of the unit, they have a set of notes that will help them complete the unit review and prepare for the unit exam.
NOTE: I emphasize that there are several different versions of the "scientific method". While there are similarities and differences between the scientific methods available, all the versions describe an organized process that helps us find answers to questions. The other worksheets provided for this unit may be adapted to fit the scientific method you use for your unit.

Drops on a Penny Lab Worksheet - Penny Lab (pdf)
The download includes a lab worksheet and teacher notes. I have also included information and worksheets for a demo I use to introduce the concepts of cohesion and surface tension prior to having my students complete the penny lab.

Other worksheets available for the Scientific Method ...
Scientific Method Review Puzzle (pdf) - I use this crossword as a review page for my Scientific Method unit.
Scientific Method Word Search (pdf) - I use this word search as an extra credit assignment. The page also includes a make-a-word challenge using the letters in "Scientific Method"
SpongeBob Science Worksheets (pdf) - Control and variable worksheets - 8th to 9th grade level.
Bikini Bottom Experiments (pdf) - Students analyze experiments to determine if they were done correctly and/or if the results are reliable. They are also challenged to write their own experiments using their knowledge of the scientific method. An answer key has been provided.
Controls & Variables (pdf) - Discuss control groups, independent variables, and dependent variables, then challenge your students to analyze experiments from Bikini Bottoms, the land of SpongeBob and his pals! An answer key has been provided
Science Safety Rules w/ SpongeBob (pdf) - Students identify safety rules that SpongeBob and his pals broke as they performed experiments. Download includes notes for the teacher and an answer key.
Also available ... Want to have your students make safety posters or signs? Download the SpongeBob Says... (pdf) pages to use! The download contains three options - 1/4 sheet, 1/2 sheet, or full sheet. Choose the best option depending on the space you have available to display the creations. I plan to assign a safety rule for each student. They will write the rule on a "SpongeBob says..." page and add a cartoon or other diagrams to illustrate it.

Independent Investigation worksheets- Independent Investigation Lab Worksheet (pdf), Independent Investigation Guidelines (pdf) , and Independent Investigation Grade Rubric (pdf)
At the end of my scientific method unit, I challenge my students (usually working in pairs) to create an experiment of their own using pennies and drops of water by following the basic steps in the scientific method. A few ideas ... Which will hold more drops of water: cold penny or hot penny; new penny or old penny; and head side or tail side? Student groups have also created experiments to test different substances: different brands of soaps, shampoo/conditioners, or other safe household liquids. I always emphasize the need for safety! Each group must have my permission before attempting any part of the experiment. If a group has not addressed possible errors or safety rules, I have them rewrite the lab until it meets with my approval.
Other ideas ... I give the students several chances throughout the year to create their own experiments using the Independent Investigation format. I provide only the topic and allow the students to create a question and design an experiment to find an answer. My students have experimented with bouncy balls, Hot Wheels cars, tops, yo-yos, and other toys that are easily available. For example, students work in pairs to create a question about bouncy balls, such as "Does the diameter of the ball influence the height of the bounce?" Students design the experiment by completing the first few sections on Ind. Investigation worksheet and have the experiment approved by me before they attempt the lab. If time is available after the labs are completed (or as an extra credit on-your-own-time project), I have the groups exchange experiments. After the experiments are completed, the groups meet to discuss the results, which provides a great opportunity to discuss problems related to the design of the experiment or data collection. Many times the groups come up with different results and the kids ask to repeat the experiment to see who is right! It is great to see them taking the initiative to experiment on their own and develop ways to address errors that could cause unreliable data - all without prodding from me!

Don't miss this one ... Want great ideas for your students to investigate? Visit the COIILS - Science Experiments Page for lots of great experiment ideas! My 7th & 8th grade students have participated in this online project for the past few years and it has been a great challenge for them. One of the best things about the project is the online database. Students can add their data to the database as well as view or download data from schools in all parts of the country!

Consumer's Challenge

My students work in research teams (2-4 students) to challenge the claims of products available to consumers. From paper towel advertisements to powerful battery claims, my students take the lead in their learning and investigate their world using the scientific method.

During the first part of the project, students choose a product, create their question/hypothesis, and develop their procedure. They are required to incorporate methods to ensure reliable results and to address safety concerns. Before the experiment day, teams list the materials needed and gain final approval from me. After the experiment, students use their data to construct a graph and write a conclusion. Each team is required to create a presentation to report their findings to their classmates.

The students earn two grades: one for the experiment portion and another for their group work. While I determine the grade for the experiment portion of the project, the students help determine the member grades (effort and participation) by completing a Group Rating form. The form allows them to assess the effort and participation for themselves as well as for their classmates. The scores are averaged to calculate the individual grades for each team member.

Student Worksheets: Consumer's Challenge (pdf) - Includes all the worksheets and grade rubrics for this activity.

Pneumonic Scientific Method poster

Your task: Create a poster using the first letters of the steps in the Scientific Method. This pneumonic device should be meaningful to you so you can remember it FOR-EV-ER.
Your poster should be on a poster board and be neat/ interesting to read. Use markers, colored pencils, computer graphics, etc...

North, East, South, West = Never eat shredded wheat.
Parenthesis, exponents, multiply, divide, add, subtract = Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally.
Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species= King Phillip came over from Germany Saturday.
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto=
My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas.

You will be graded on creativity, accuracy, readability and your ability to remember the steps of the scientific method.

Scientific Method: example and links

Step 1:
State the problem. You cannot solve a problem until you know exactly what it is.

My Problem is - "I need a date for Friday Night".

Step 2:
Research the problem. What will it take to solve my problem?
What do I know, and need to know, about my problem?

To solve my problem, "I need someone to take out Friday Night".

Who can I take?
- Examine the possibilities.
- Eliminate poor choices.
- Consider likely choices.

Step 3:
Form a hypothesis. A possible solution to my problem.
The simplest solution is often the best solution!

"My date will be ( Name )".

Step 4:
Test the hypothesis. Perform an experiment to see if your hypothesis works.

"Ask ( Name ) for a date Friday Night".

Step 5:
Draw conclusions from the data. Data are the results of an experiment.

In its simplest form, there are only two possible conclusions:

Conclusion 1 If your hypothesis was correct, you now have a date for Friday.


Conclusion 2 If your hypothesis was incorrect, the experiment failed.



- What was wrong with your original hypothesis?
- Did you make a poor selection?
- Was your experiment flawed?
- Form another hypothesis based on additional research.
- Test the new hypothesis.
Continue this process until the problem is solved!

Research Ideas Google Search topics:

* Mankato State University provides a more detailed explanation of The Scientific Method.
* Science For All Americans is a good online book to read.
* A detailed explanation of the Uncertainty in Measurement, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
* Science, Design, and Education - Students' Information Technology (SIT), University of Wisconsin - Madison
* Problem Based Learning is part of NASA's Classroom of the Future.
* The Center for Critical Thinking will help you understand how to evaluate your learning experience.
* Teaching Critical Thinking and the Scientific Method at the Society for Developmental Biology.
* The book On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research should be required reading for all Science Students!
* There IS such a thing as Bad Science.
* Richard Feynman on The Scientific Method and Teaching.
* The TWINKIES PROJECT isn't exactly the scientific method, but it's fun.
* Galileo and Einstein knew something of the scientific method.

Scientific Inquiry Standards - 12A, 13A, 14A, 15A
Communication Standards - 15A, 16A, 17A, 18A, 18B
English Content Standards - 1A, 2A, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5A, 10A, 11A, 11B, 12B, 13A