Many upper elementary science teachers start off the year teaching their students about the scientific method. Here are some tools that can help!
1. Notebook Printable
Reference the scientific method all year. Use this free printable in student notebooks! Download the PDF now.
2. Fair Tests Contests
In my experience, many elementary students struggle to grasp the idea of controlled variables (constants) and why they are important for fair tests. What have my students always had an understanding of? Fairness in a game. Play Drag Race, Chocolate Melt, and The Bounce in your classroom to teach your students about fair tests and controlled variables. See the contest directions here.
3. Experiment Task Cards
Even though we regularly use the scientific method in class for our experiments, we still have to practice forming hypotheses, identifying variables, making plans, and constructing testable questions. Scientific Method Task Cards includes 18 task cards that each have 5 questions about an experiment posed (90 total questions). See them on TpT.
4. Multiple Trials
This is a fun lesson to introduce multiple trials with elementary students. Use bouncy balls to teach why it is important to repeat trials. There’s a version of the activity for younger elementary and upper elementary.
This StudyJams for Scientific Methods discusses questions, hypotheses, experimental design, controlling variables, recording data, and drawing a conclusion. This video is a great time to pause and discuss the controlled variables with the hummingbird feeders they show.
6. Skittles Experiment
At the beginning of the year, I want a simple, fun experiment to walk my students through the scientific method and discuss important terms and processes along the way. This is where Skittles come in! For the great Skittles experiment, we were trying to answer the question: Do Skittles dissolve faster in warm or cool water?
The Skittles Experiment is part of iLearn Science, a must-have back to school resource with a powerpoint, student notes, measurement and tools stations, the Skittles experiment, and more! See it on TpT.
7. Keep it up all year
Revisit the process all year long. Most students will take multiple exposures to the scientific method before they are ready to plan and implement their own experiments. I like to start by leading students through planning some experiments. Over time, groups and individuals are ready to plan their experiments with a little help here and there!