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Scientific Method

Page history last edited by Bill 8 years, 7 months ago

Scientific Method


In the sixth grade, students begin to study the key elements of the scientific method.  They learn to develop interesting questions that can be tested, to write hypotheses that outline early predictions and intuitions, to collect data in an efficient way that promotes communication with others, to recognize the impact that variables can have on experiments and to draw conclusions that are based on observations.  


Throughout this unit, teachers will give students opportunities to develop and to complete small experiments.  Creative thinking will be emphasized as procedures and processes are introduced. Below, you will find unit overview sheets, a common assessment that is given by all teachers, samples of student work, and materials for possible lessons to support this unit of instruction.  



I Can Statements

Scientific Method - Unit Overview Sheet


This document includes a list of the objectives that students will be expected to master in their study of the scientific method.  It can be used as a checklist by teachers to guide their instruction and as a tracking sheet for parents and students to monitor progress towards mastery.







Hypothesis Exemplars

Exemplars - Student Hypothesis


The document embedded above includes exemplars of student hypotheses writing from each of the levels of the rubric that is used to grade student lab work.  Teachers, parents and students can both use these exemplars to gain a better understanding of what quality hypotheses need to "look like."



Conclusion Exemplars

Exemplars - Student Conclusions


The document embedded above includes exemplars of student conclusion writing from each of the levels of the rubric that is used to grade student lab work.  Teachers, parents and students can both use these exemplars to gain a better understanding of what quality hypotheses need to "look like."



Graphing Exemplar

Exemplar - Student Graph


This document includes an exemplar of a student graph that is at the Mastering/Excelling level of performance.  The first page of the document includes a description of the strengths and weaknesses of the student graph.  The second page of the document includes the student's graph.





Rubric for Graphs and Tables

Rubric - Graphs and Tables


This is a rubric that people can use when they're scoring graphs and tables created by students. 



Rubric for Lab Activities

Rubric - Mini Labs


This rubric includes indicators for hypotheses, conclusions and graphs.  It can be used to score portions of individual lab assignments separately. 



Conclusion Evaluation Feedback Grid

Conclusion - Feedback Grid


One of the recommendations that assessment expert Dylan William makes about providing feedback is to provide students with exemplars, have them rate those exemplars using a feedback grid, and then ask student groups to compare their ratings.  This activity -- which can be used along with our paper towel lab -- gives students the chance to do just that.  It asks students to compare two sample conclusions against four criteria for a good conclusion.  Then, it asks students to compare their own conclusion against the same criteria.  




Potential Lessons


Socrative Quiz - Scientific Method Vocabulary

Share Code:  SOC-17229547


Socrative is an extension of Mastery Connect that allows users to give quick formative quizzes designed to gather instant feedback.  The share code above will take you to a 6 question Socrative quiz that covers scientific method vocabulary.  It asks students to identify the independent variable, dependent variable and constants in two different imaginary hypotheses.  



Scientific Method Organizer

Handout - Sci Method Flowchart


This document contains a flowchart that can be introduced to the process that scientists use when they work through an investigation.  It was created by Michael Manholt. 



OWI Materials

Handout - OWI


Handout - OWI Self Assessment


One of the activities that Bill Ferriter uses regularly with students are OWI sheets.  These are simple lab reporting sheets where students record an observation in both written form and in a scientific illustration.  Then, students write a wonder question connected to their observation and make an inference about their wonder question.  It is a quick and easy way for students to report during an experiment -- although it doesn't require a formal conclusion or data table. 


These are the handouts that Bill uses when working with OWIs.  The first is just a simple blank template that includes space for O, W and I responses.  The second is a scoring rubric that Bill sometimes uses to grade student work -- or that students sometimes use to give feedback to their peers.  The last is a self-assessment handout that kids can use to rate their own performance on OWI activities.



Group Work Rating Document

Handout - Science Group Work Rating


This handout -- which was created by Bill Ferriter -- is designed to give teachers the opportunity to gather feedback from students about the work of individual peers during group assignments.  It can be used to gather evidence about the students in our classes who are struggling to work cooperatively with their peers. 




Lab Overview Sheet

Handout - Lab Report Overview


This document is designed to guide students step-by-step through the steps of the scientific method.  It can be used as a required handout for every lab or as a template that students follow only, filling out responses on a separate piece of notebook paper. 



Spaghetti Tower Mini Lab

Handout - Spaghetti Tower Challenge


This handout includes student directions for a mini-lab that can be used at the beginning of the year to introduce the scientific method.  It requires students to build a tower that can hold up a marshmallow from spaghetti. 



Rating Hypotheses and Conclusions

Handout - Hypothesis Ratings

Handout - Conclusion Ratings


Bill Ferriter has noticed that even with support, students struggle to write reasonable hypotheses and sets of conclusions.  These two handouts are designed to address those weaknesses.  They ask students to look at four different samples and to rate them in order from beginning to excelling.  They can be partnered nicely with the rubric that we use to grade hypotheses and conclusions. 





Graph Paper Sheet

Graph Paper Blank.doc  

The spacing of the graph allows students to have room so that they don't bunch all of their data together.



Dependent Variable, Independent Variable and Constant Quiz

Activity - Identifying Varibales and Constants

Activity - Identifying Variables and Constants Retest

Handout - Identifying Variables


These simple activities give students the opportunity to explore the differences between dependent variables, independent variables and constants.  They can be used as quizzes or as homework assignments.  The third comes from our North Carolina Science Lab Manual. 



Save Fred

Handout - Save Fred

Save Fred ebook.pdf  

Save Fred.pptx

Save Fred Sheet.docx



Great early lab to get students thinking and using problem solving skills. 



Mythbusters Viewing Guide

Handout - Mythbusters Analysis


The popular Discovery series Mythbusters is a great tool for teaching students about the scientific method simply because each episode involves two quirky scientists asking and answering questions through scientific experimentation.  This viewing guide can be used to focus student thinking around the scientific method while watching any episode.  It makes for a solid sub plan.  Full episodes are available on United Streaming.  Also, Bill Ferriter has a season on DVD that you can borrow as well. 




Creative Problem Solving Challenges



During Spartan Time, Bill Ferriter will be having groups of kids complete tiny task creative problem solving challenges that he selects from Kris Bordessa's Team Challenges book.  These activities (1). require few supplies and (2). encourage teams of students to think creatively with one another.  The PowerPoint file above will include all of the challenges that he asks students to complete. 



Observing & Measuring Notes

Observing & Measuring Vocabulary.ppt

Observing & Measuring Notes OUTLINE.docx

Observing & Measuring Notes KEY.doc


This PowerPoint, outline & key covers the basic terms that students will need to become familiar with / that are commonly used in labs and other activities throughout the year.  This includes the scientific method, how to make, measure and record observations and data.



Working With Metric Measurement

Working with the Metric System of Measurement.doc

Working With Metric Measurement Part I.pptx

Working With Metric Measurement.docx


This activity is a good start for students to start measuring volume, length & mass.  The included PowerPoint & extra sheet can be used if you would like to go over how to measure volume with a graduated cylinder for the first time as a whole class.



Measuring Up

Measuring Up.docx


A good small group measuring activity where students use a graduated cylinder, a triple beam balance and ruler / meter stick to make measurements of different objects.  In the conclusion portion of the activity, students will have to be able to critically analyze their data to answer the questions. 



Lab Safety Activities

Lab Safety Cartoon.doc

Scientific Method Science Safety Rules - Sponge Bob.doc


Two activities that can be started in class or done as homework to help reinforce correct lab and safety procedures.



The Scientific Method Activities

Sci. Meth. & Vocab. G.O..doc

This is graphic organizer that students can put in their ILL for reference. The back side asks students to think about and describe the steps and parts of the scientific method.


Scientific Method In Action.doc

In this activity, students read about an actual scientific case and try to how the scientific method was applied.  I have gotten better results when I have read the example to the class, then have the students think about their answers to the questions, before pairing with another student to discuss their thoughts and collaborating on an answer between them, and then going over it as a whole class discussing and sharing points of view / answers from different groups.


Kaibab Deer Story.doc

This is a good activity to show how to set up a graph (IV & DV), it is also a great activity dealing with inferences. I start off this activity by stressing the importance of using as much space as is available when making a graph.  Then we evaluate the data (population of deer on the Kaibab Plateau).  I help students get started by talking them through and graphing the first data point on the front board.  I then let them work with a partner / small group to continue graphing the data points.  Before moving to Part Two, students must get teacher approval on their graph!  


Human Population Growth.doc

This is another graphing, inferencing and critical thinking activity.  If you have higher level thinkers that finish the Kaibab Deer Story activity ahead of the rest of the class, this is a good activity that is little more complex.  It could also be used in the ecology unit as well.  


Fishin for Answers.doc

Fishin for Answers key.doc

This is a basic dichotomous key activity where students attempt to identify fish be their physical characteristics. 


IV, DV,Hyp. Practice.doc

IV, DV,Hyp. Practice KEY.doc

Students are given several scenarios and asked to write a hypothesis, based on the information given in each scenario.  They are also asked to identify the IV & DV in each of their hypotheses.


Remediation and Enrichment


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