First Steps in the Scientific Method

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SWBAT identify and apply the steps of the scientific method to sample scenarios. RST RST.3.9-10 - Reading for Science and Technical Subjects

Big Idea

The scientific method is a formal technique to address all laboratory inquiries from the most simple to the most complex. This lesson will introduce the steps of the scientific method and enable students to become familiar with the associated terminology.

Hook - Careful Observations

5 minutes

To get the students interested in today's lesson, I will show a short power point presentation called The Scene of the Crime.  This activity is an entertaining, competitive, and an eye-opening experience for all of the students as they attempt to retain as many details as possible from the provided image.  

The students will watch the presentation, have 30 to make their careful observations, and then record their responses on their daily Bell Question Response Sheet.  

I will review the questions as a whole group with the image, "The Scene of the Crime", on the projection screen.  This is a great time to remind the students about the power of observations in our science labs and the importance of paying attention to even the smallest details!  Students are always surprised at few details they are able to remember.  This is a powerful moment to have students focus on the importance of observations and the attention to detail when making observations . . . all from a simple cartoon.  Students really have fun with this short activity!

Direct Instruction - Introducing the Scientific Method

40 minutes

The heart of today's lesson is the  Scientific Method Power Point Presentation.  The content of this presentation may be review for some students, but others have long forgot the basics of laboratory experimentation and the important steps of the scientific method.  

This presentation is longer than usual so I have asked each student to get out two sheets of paper and title their paper, An Introduction to the Scientific Method.  

The presentation will explain the steps of the scientific method and provide a real world application to helping to solve an environmental problem.  This presentation also highlights Redi's investigation that disproved spontaneous generation, as well as a review of important vocabulary terms that pertain to the scientific method.  This presentation can be viewed as a stand alone resource or can be used as a supplement to the Prentice Hall (2002) Dragon Fly textbook.

In an effort to encourage my students to write down only the most important concepts during my power point presentations, I will use my Promethean ActiveSlate to highlight the critical information.  I will verbally review all of the presentation's content, but the Active Slate allows me to write and highlight over the top of my presentation to draw the students' attention to certain portions of the slides.  The Promethean Active Slate is an important piece of technology in my classroom to assist in maximizing student learning without the extra cost of a Promethean Smart Board.  You can achieve the same result projecting on top of a whiteboard and highlighting using a marker as well.  Technology is great, but if you do not have the funds to purchase the equipment, you can always outsmart the "smart" technology!  

Guided Practice - Scientific Method Practice Scenarios

5 minutes

The students will use their textbooks (Prentice Hall 2002 - the Dragon Fly book) and their freshly written lecture notes to collaboratively complete this Scientific Method Practice Worksheet with their lab partner.  Student Work - Scientific Method Practice. As you can see there are a few differences when compared to the key, but this provides the opportunity for class discussion on identifying the steps of the scientific method.

The practice worksheet will review the steps in the scientific method and provide a real world example of Jonas Salk's research while developing the Polio vaccine.

The students will not be able to complete this reinforcement activity due to our limited time, but I always try to allow my students time in class to start their homework so I can answer any questions, clarify any points of confusion, and build confidence for some of my struggling students.  I will have the students write down their homework assignment in their agenda books (aka - school calendars), which is to complete this reinforcement worksheet that we started during class.

Close - A Final Review

5 minutes

At the conclusion of each class period, I like to conduct a quick formative assessment so I can gauge student learning and so my students can begin to self-assess their own level of learning.  

As our Closing Activity today, I will call the students' attention back to the front of the classroom and turn back on the projector to reveal The Diagram of the Scientific Method that had all of the steps mixed up.  I will challenge my students to correctly identify each step of the scientific method in order and record their answers on the back of their homework worksheet.  I will review the correct order of the scientific method and remind students of their Homework assignment - the Scientific Method Practice Worksheet.