Enjoy teaching scientific method! Start with some simple experiments. Soon, your little scientists will understand how to conduct a fair test.
Ms. Sneed Is Teaching the Scientific Method
Let’s look in on our favorite fourth grade teacher. First, Ms. Sneed stapled some Dollar Store shelf liner to the backsplash of her sink area. Next, she added some colorful borders. Finally, she matted her scientific method posters on black paper. Voila!
Just as she was finishing up, the teacher next door popped in to borrow some salt. “Hey,” said Mr. Aaron, “I like what you’ve done with the place.”
“Thanks! These posters on the top help me teach the steps in the scientific method:
- Ask a question.
- Conduct research.
- Design a fair test.
- Make observations.
- Record results.
- Draw conclusions.
- Share results.
“And the four on the bottom remind the kids of what makes a fair test: compare, control variables, use tools, and replicate.”
Teaching Scientific Method with a Simple Graphic Organizer
Just then, Mr. Aaron noticed a template on the table. “This is great. Can I have one?”
The next day, Ms. Sneed was ready to rock and roll. “Okay everyone, today we’ll explore processes scientists use in a fair test.”
As she began the scientific method PowerPoint presentation, a kid at the side table called out, “Hey, look! Those are the same pictures as on the wall over there.”
“You’re right, Kevin. We’ll be referring to those posters all year long.”
As Ms. Sneed continued teaching scientific method with the PowerPoint, a simple experiment unfolded.
- Question: Which will evaporate more, water in an open or closed container?
- Research: Water in an open container will continue to evaporate until it is all gone. When water is placed in a closed container, it also evaporates. This happens only until the air in the cup is saturated, or full of water vapor. Then the water molecules begin to return to the water. This happens at the same rate that others are evaporating.
- Hypothesis: A small amount of water will evaporate from a closed cup. More will evaporate from an open cup.
- Procedure – (1) Measure 50 milliliters of water into six cups. (2) Cover three cups in plastic wrap. Leave the other three cups open to the air. (3) Wait two days. (4) Measure the amounts of water in each cup. Record.
- Variable – open or closed cup
- Controls – same cups, same cover, same liquid, same temperature, same light, same humidity
- Observations: An average of 38 milliliters of water remained in the open cups. An average of 50 milliliters of water remained in the closed cup.
- Conclusion: Water in an open cup evaporates, but water in a closed cup does not.
“Notice how the simplest questions can lead to profound conclusions,” said Ms. Sneed.
The Students Design and Conduct Experiments
Now it was time for the kids to explore on their own. “Let’s read this article on evaporation,” said Ms. Sneed. “As we read, think about a scientific method experiment you’d like to try.”
When they finished, each group received a scientific method template. After some debate, each team came up with their own question and got started.
“You know what?” asked a girl in the front corner. “This is fun.” Ms. Sneed smiled silently to herself. Yes, it was.
Teaching Scientific Method = A Happy Teacher
Yes, Ms. Sneed was ever so pleased with her scientific method unit. As the year went on, Ms. Sneed found more ways to energize her science instruction. In addition to using the fair test, she also asked her students to use inquiry and make generalizations. Her kids ate it up – especially the STEM activities she added each month. When the kids got their hands on science, engagement went up, behavior issues went down, and learning skyrocketed. And you know what? Ms. Sneed enjoyed teaching even more.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.