What is a Prediction

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SWBAT make a prediction and carry out an investigation

Big Idea

One thing that a scientist does is to predict and then test that prediction. Students need to develop these skills if they are to work like a scientist.

Making a Prediction

20 minutes

I Can statement: I begin today by pointing to the I Can statement on the board. I ask students to read it with me. “I can make a prediction and test my own prediction.”


I ask, “does anyone know what the word prediction means?” I ask students to turn and talk to the people at their tables about what they think the term means. “ Talk to your partners about the word prediction. I will ask someone from each table to share their ideas with us so make sure everyone knows what your table decides. “ I circulate around the room listening to each group. I give students about 3 minutes to discuss the term and then I say, “Class, class, CLASS” in a silly voice and the students respond, “Yes, yes, YESS” in the same tone.


“Ok, I would like to hear from each table about what you think the word prediction means.” I call on one person from each table to tell me. (This is an excellent way to encourage cooperative learning because every student needs to know the term because instead of taking volunteers I call on someone and students don’t know who will get to share out so they need to make sure their whole table is prepared.) I am hoping that students will talk about predicting as making a good guess, figuring out what they think will happen, forming a hypothesis, etc. If none of these things come out, I will build upon what students do say to lead to these ideas about prediction.


“Now that we know what a prediction is, I want you all to stand up and do 10 windmills and then sit back down so I can tell you about our experiment for today.”


"Today I have clear cups, raisins, water, juice and soda water. (I hold up each material as I introduce them).  You will work in you groups and fill a cup with water, one with juice and one with soda. You will add raisins and observe what happens. If you have ever done this before, please don’t tell your group what happens, but just write your prediction the same way everyone else does and then you will be able to observe and see if you are right."


"Now this is where the prediction comes in. I want you to think about what will happen to the raisins in each cup, the water number 1, the apple juice number 2 and the soda water number 3.  I will give each one of you a journal page to put in your notebook and I want you to predict what will happen to the raisins in each cup. You may write, draw or do both but you need to write a prediction next to each cup on your paper."

(I project the paper on the Smart Board as I demonstrate what to do. Modeling helps students understand what they are doing, but I always use a different scenario so students do not just copy mine.) "Here is my page and it looks just like yours. If I had milk in cup 1, and coffee in cup 2 I might draw the 2 cups and label them milk, coffee. Now I think, what would happen to raisins if I drop them in milk? They will look like chocolate chips and turn the milk brown so I show swirls of brown in the cup and write milk turns brown. Now I look at my coffee cup and think, coffee is hot so the raisins might melt so I don’t show them in the cup but write melts below the cup. Those are my predictions. I haven’t tried it yet, but that is what I think will happen. Now, you are going to do that with the cups that will hold water, apple juice and soda water.  Are there any questions about how you will make your prediction?"


"Ok, I will give you about 5 minutes to write your predictions down on your page. If you finish, you might want to add details to your drawing so it is clear. You may color it in if you have time.”


While students work, I circulate around making notes about how students attack the problem and if they are able to make a prediction that is logical and makes sense with what we are doing. 

The Experiment

20 minutes

Once I see that everyone has a prediction completed, I ask them to set that paper in their science notebooks and place them in their desks. I give them a recording sheet that has the 3 cups on it. I ask them to label the cups water, apple juice, soda.


“Now you will work with your table. Here are the directions. (I post the directions for students to follow as I say,)  Scientists often follow a set of directions to do their experiments. They want to have good directions so they can remember just what they did. It is sort of like cooking, have any of you ever helped follow a  recipe when you are cooking? The directions scientists use are sort of like a recipe. " (By pointing this out here I am encouraging students to think about scientific method and that scientists don’t just dump a bunch of stuff in a bowl and see what happens. I want to change this misconception of how scientists work as we do investigations this year.)


"Here are the steps you will need to follow.  Step 1 fill the first cup to the line with water and label it water. Step 2 fill the second cup with apple juice to the line and label it apple juice. Step 3 fill the last cup with soda water and label it soda. Ok would you please complete those 3 steps at your tables. Notice that the recording sheet has the directions on it in case you forget what to do. Remember that you are working in a group so what do you need to do?” I call on students to remind us to take turns, listen to each other, make sure everyone has a turn, be respectful of others.


When I can see that all 4 tables are ready I ring the bell for quiet and ask students to look at the next direction. It says “drop 3 raisins in each cup and observe what happens.” “Please follow that direction and then observe all 3 cups. Do not touch the cups once you put the raisins in, just use your eyes to observe. You can talk to your tables about what you are seeing.”Our First ObservationsSecond Observation


I circulate around the room and listen to what students are saying. I ask questions such as why do you think different things are happening in each cup? Or can you tell me one thing you are noticing?


After about 10 minutes of observation I sing out class, CLASS, Class and the class responds with YES, Yess, yes. “I have seen and heard some great science as I have moved about the room. People have seen some cool things and shared why they think things are happening.  Now I would like you to record what you saw for each cup. You will see a space on your paper below the 3 cups to record what you saw. You can draw and write what you noticed. Do not take out your prediction paper yet, just record what you observed. “ I demonstrate by holding up my cup of coffee with the raisins in it as I say, I dropped the raisins in while you were working and I see that they have sunk to the bottom so I need to draw the raisins at the bottom, label my cup coffee and write, in the coffee the raisins sank to the bottom." (I do this as I speak.)


"I would like each of you to record what you observed by yourself. We will work quietly for 5 minutes as you do this and then we will come together to share our thoughts."


I give students time to work. If they are not done at the end of 5 minutes, I wait until most students are done before ringing the bell and asking them to bring their recording sheets and their predictions to the circle. On the way to the circle I want you to do jump walks. (stretch breaks help students to remain focused on what they are doing).


Sharing Our Discoveries

15 minutes

This lesson is about asking and answering questions. I say to students, "when we make a prediction we are wondering what will happen. We are saying, "what will happen when I drop the raisins into the glass? Our experiment helps us to answer our own question." I want to encourage students to ask and answer questions by using a prediction format and then testing their own predictions. It is my goal for students to develop their ability to formulate and answer questions. This part of the lesson encourages student dialog about what they thought would happen, and what actually did happen. 

“I know you saw some pretty cool things but before we share I want you to take a couple of minutes and look at your predictions and your observations of what happened."  (I have students do this at the rug because I do not want students changing their predictions to match their observations and at the rug they have no writing utensils. Students tend to think that they have to be right and I want them to develop an understanding that scientist predictions do not always match their observations but this is how they learn new things. )

I give students about 2 minutes to look at the two papers they have and then say, “now would you turn and talk to your neighbor about what you predicted and what you observed. “An Acceptable Journal PageA Strong Journal EntryA Weaker Journal Entry (This will get all children engaged in the activity, rather than having only a few children share while the others watch.)


I clap my hands and say, “ Ok, now I would like a few people to share what they noticed about the water cup. Can you tell us what you predicted and what you observed?" (I take 2 volunteers to share what they predicted and what they observed. I ask for a thumbs up if the rest of the group observed something similar. I acknowledge that other people may have seen other things and had a chance to share those with their partners and that scientists do not always see the exact same things, but we are only sharing a few whole group today.)

“Ok, lets talk about the apple juice cup. Can anyone tell us what they predicted and what they observed?” Again I take 2 volunteers and ask for a thumbs up check.

“We have one more cup. I would like a couple of people to share what they predicted and what they observed.” We share and do a thumbs up check to keep everyone engaged.


“Did your predictions always match what you observed? Thumbs up if all 3 of yours matched. Ok, thumbs up if all 3 of yours didn’t match. Thumbs up if some matched and some didn't. Do you see how many didn’t match? That happens to scientists a lot and do you know what they do if it doesn’t match? They don’t say oh no I goofed, but instead they ask a new question like, I wonder why that happened.  I thought the raisins in my coffee would melt, but instead they sank to the bottom. Hmm, I wonder if they would sink to the bottom in tea or hot chocolate? I might try that next.  Scientists like it when it doesn’t match because it gives them more questions to ask and more predictions to test out. “ Again, I am encouraging students to extend their thinking and ability to formulate questions. 

 “Raise your hand if you can think of another question you might ask or another thing you might try because of what you observed?” I take 3 or 4 suggestions and commend each person, even those I didn’t get a chance to hear, for being such a good scientist.  "Some of you may want to test your new prediction during open center time. Just let me know what you might need for your prediction and observation.“

I Can Statement 

“Let’s end today by looking at our I Can Statement. Let’s read it together, “I can make a prediction and test my own prediction.” Thumbs up if you made a prediction today and tested it. Wow, we really are great scientists. I am so proud of your work today."