In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about the scientific method. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Scientific Method topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching the Scientific Method
Create a science handbook together. Review the steps of the scientific method and help students write the steps down. They may wish to give examples, illustrate their steps, or decorate their pages. Discuss rules for behaving during a science experiment and stress the importance of following directions and working together. Then have students add information and rules about science safety, such as the importance of wearing gloves, goggles, and aprons. Students can gather their pages into a binder or if possible, they can put the pages in plastic sleeves so the handbook will be waterproof and protected during science experiments. This handbook can become part of your students’ science kits, and using it will help them follow the scientific method.
Model the scientific method by leading a science experiment using magnets. Explain that after watching the Scientific Method movie, students know that magnets can attract objects made with iron. Have students think of other questions they want to ask about magnets. For example, does cutting a magnet in half affect its capabilities? Write students’ questions on the board and choose one to investigate together. Have students write down hypotheses and together plan an experiment. Model writing a clear experiment plan, complete with easy, short steps and a list of materials needed to complete the experiment. Do the experiment together and have students record their data. Think about different ways to record data, and discuss when to use each method. Then analyze the data and draw a conclusion.
Step by Step
An important part of the scientific method is following directions. If scientists do not follow their experiment plans, the results can be inconsistent and inconclusive. Have students practice writing and following directions by writing a series of steps for their partners to follow. Directions can be for going on a computer, getting a book from the bookshelves, walking to the cafeteria, etc. Students should write down the directions in clear, easy steps. Emphasize the importance of double-checking their work before giving the directions to their partners. Remind students that they cannot give their partners hints on how to follow the directions—the list of steps should do that for them.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching the Scientific Method
Science at Home
There are plenty of opportunities to do science experiments at home. Together think of a question to ask, such as what dissolves in water, what floats or sinks, etc. Then come up with a hypothesis and an experiment plan. Have your child write the steps of the experiment and try it. Remember to record data during the experiment. Help your child come up with a conclusion and share your findings with family members.
Prediction in the Kitchen
A great way to teach science and spend time with your child is to cook with your child. Together, follow a recipe and stress the importance of following directions. Note the importance of checking ahead to make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment required, of having the proper safety tools (for example, oven mitts, etc.), and of making sure you have the time to complete the cooking project. What might happen if you skipped a step in the recipe or used a different ingredient? As you cook, have your child make predictions about what will happen when ingredients are combined and what the final product will look like. Your child can record data by writing down observations and measurements into a sensory detail chart.
Many commercials and advertisements make promises about a product. For example, a specific brand of toothpaste will whiten teeth after five days or a detergent will take out grass stains. Watch a few commercials together and have your child question a product and put it to the test. Use the scientific method to come up with an experiment and draw a conclusion. What is the best way to test if the product keeps its promise? Help your child write down an experiment plan, record data, and draw a conclusion. Share the findings with your family members. You and your child may also wish to make up a commercial discuss the findings. For example, if the detergent does not remove a grass stain, your child can write a commercial saying that the detergent does not work as promised and offer other solutions.