Scientific Method Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about the scientific method.The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Scientific Method. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

In this movie, children will learn about the scientific method, which are the steps scientists follow to investigate and answer questions about the world. It is important for children to understand that the scientific method can also help them organize and plan their own ideas, and to draw conclusions about the world around them. Children will learn how to ask a question, make a hypothesis, plan and carry out an experiment, observe and record data, draw conclusions, and share results with others. While the scientific method provides a standardized way for scientists to conduct their work, many scientists work according to other methodologies as well.

Remind children that the first step of the scientific method is to ask a question. Scientists look at the world around them and pose questions. The second step is to form a hypothesis, or a prediction. Remind children that when you hypothesize, you use what you know to make an educated guess as to the outcome of your experiment. These predictions draw from prior knowledge and experiences and children should connect and apply what they have learned.

After making a hypothesis, the next step is to plan an experiment. This entails writing down steps for an experiment that will answer the question. Remind students that good plans have short and clear steps that they will be able to follow. The plan should also include any materials that will be used in the experiment, including safety gear.

After scientists have gathered all the materials needed for the experiment, the next step is to do it! Remind students to pay careful attention to the experiment plan and follow it closely. As they conduct the experiment, scientists record data. Data is information gathered during the experiment. This can include observations and measurements. You may want to screen the Tally Charts and Bar Graphs movie or the Pictographs movie to review data gathering and recording with children. Recording data is an important part of the scientific method because it helps scientists organize their ideas and observations, and to present the results in a clear manner. Charts, graphs, lists, diagrams, and even sketches are all ways to record data during experiments.

After the completion of the experiment, the next step is to analyze the data and draw a conclusion. Scientists look at the information they have gathered and observed, and make connections to come to a conclusion. These conclusions may or may not be in agreement with their predictions. Remind children that scientists make incorrect predictions all the time, and an important part of the scientific process is to understand why predictions were incorrect. Many scientists will repeat an experiment several times to see if they can replicate the results before coming to a conclusion. This ensures that they have conducted the experiment the same way each time and make sure no introduced errors or outside factors affected the experiment’s outcome.

The last step of the scientific method is to share what you have learned. Scientists share information so that others can use the findings to pose different questions and conduct different experiments. Teach children that sharing information is an important part of working together and learning about the world and how it works. Many scientists will publish their findings in journals, magazines, books, or even present at conferences. After watching this movie and completing the features, children may be ready to start their own projects! We recommend watching the Science Projects movie together to get them started.