Conducting Investigations

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SWBAT recognize and organize the steps within the scientific process.

Big Idea

How do you determine which came first, the chicken or the egg? How would a scientist go about investigating this question? There are many different methods. Here is one way to consider.

Blending CCSS with NGSS

5 minutes

It is important to blend and integrate the Common Core State Standards with Next Generation Science Standards when a lesson lends itself to it.  The hours and minutes in a classroom with students are critical.  Not one minute can be lost to wasted time.  That being said, anytime a teacher can integrate and blend the two major players in our education system (CCSS and NGSS), we get more bang for our buck. 

I believe that when this is done well, a teacher can demonstrate to students how much a part of our lives science is.  Gone are the days of having separate blocks of time to teach each individual curriculum area.  The more blending of curriculums the more powerful the learning and teaching. 

This lesson is a seamless demonstration of the integrating the two systems. 


5 minutes

"This morning we read a great story about some kids creating some great science investigations.  Do you remember reading Eleven Experiments that Failed?  Who can remember what the first experiment was in the book?  Turn to your shoulder buddy and have a quick discussion about what you remember from our reading."  This is a Cooperative Learning strategy from Spencer Kagan; it is called,  Think-Pair-Share

After a few moments of talk time, I ring my bell and ask for volunteers to share what they remember from our reading. 

This lesson really works best if it is built using an earlier time to read the entire book to the class.  Reading it through completely as a literature book to show the love of the language itself.  I use this book to practice charting a fiction story.  In my district we use the Step Up to Writing program; we use a lot of story charting to teach the elements of writing and foster deeper comprehension in our reading. 

I chart this story with my students in the fiction format.  This is one of those beautiful stories that is fiction, but is filled with so much rich science and non-fiction information. 

After charting the story and focusing on the elements of the writing, allows me to focus on the science in the writing.





15 minutes

"Ok, most of you remember that the first experiment was an experiment with food. I have a new question that I would like you to think about.  Can you remember the steps that the children used when they completed the experiment?  Take a few minutes to think about this silently to yourself." 

"I am going to bring a paper to you and your shoulder buddy and I would like you to look a the steps that are written in the squares.  You will cut out each square and with your partner sort and place them in the order the investigations happened in the story."

This lesson does a great job of demonstrating to students the Crosscutting concept of patterns.  After dissecting two or three of the experiments within the story, children should be able to see easily that the process of science investigations follow the same pattern. And that this pattern is followed fairly closely each time an investigation is conducted.



Explain and Elaborate

15 minutes

I have my How Does a scientist conduct an investigation Power Point on my laptop before the lesson begins.  Ready to go and waiting.  

Not only is it important for students to be able to plan an investigation, these skills are valuable in the Planning and Carrying Out Investigations within Science and Engineering Practices.

"Boys and girls, this morning we read an amazingly funny story about a little girl and some crazy things that happened to her while she was investigating science.  We were able to map out that story with our sequencing map and find all the important elements of the story.  And we also sorted all the steps and put them in the order that the children completed their investigations.  I want you to think like a scientist some more and I am going to show you a few more steps that scientists complete when they are completing their work."

"Let me show you a Power Point that I think will help us be more like scientists." 

I begin with slide one: "Let's look at this first slide.  A scientist can't investigate anything if they don't have an observation about something in their world." 

Slide two: "After we have made that wonderful observation, we suddenly have, I wonder moment. That's when a scientist knows he has a good idea for an investigation." 

I continue to go through each slide using the information on the Power Point to guide my explanation to the children.  The slides are very complete and simple and make clear sense to the children.  

I am careful to explain each slide in total, in ten minutes.  After my ten minutes of discussion, it is critical for the students to have at least two minutes to process the new information I have just shared with them. This strategy is called "10/2", it is a brain based teaching strategy designed by Art Costas.  It is sometimes called, "chunk and chew." 


25 minutes

After going through the PowerPoint presentation, I have the children to go back through the book Eleven Experiments that Failed with me.  We are going to dissect this book once more, however, this time we are dissecting it as scientists, not authors or readers.  

"OK, scientists, we discussed the steps the children in the book used to find the answers to their questions. This time we are going to map it again, but we are going to be the scientists that I know you are and look at it with the ideas the power point showed us."

I anticipate the children will realize that after seeing the PowerPoint, the language and vocabulary will look very familiar.  

I pass out the papers, Eleven Experiments that Failed notebook page to the teams and instruct the children to fold the paper in half.  Using their scissors, the students cut along the lines that separate the boxes with the words for each step of the process.  They only cut to the half fold.  Then using glue, add a snail trail of glue around the outside of the page on the dotted line. The folded page can then be added to the next blank page in the journal.  

Once all the children have this in their books, we can begin to map out the story from a scientific point of view.  I have a page cut and created just like the children.  Mine is also glued in to my own sample teacher book.  I enlarge it with the document camera on the screen allowing the children to watch me write and document as they are too.  

"Ok, everyone, let's go through this carefully.  What was the first thing our scientist observed in the story?"  I am not asking for any specific groups or teams to answers, simply allowing the children to choral call whatever they remember from the story.  Some times, it is important to allow the students the chance to just be one big unit.  It offers an opportunity for the kids to learn and take turns in their own way.  Puzzling it out without my being in charge.  There is a great value in giving them that chance.  

We go through each step in the doors on the foldable and write a corresponding action from the book that demonstrates the scientific process skills.  I do not expect the children to be able to do this independently, but more with my direction.  This directly addresses the objective of the lesson.