Science Tools

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SWBAT identify the kinds of tools scientists use and how to use them.

Big Idea

Scientists use several different tools for measuring and observing scientific phenomena. Students will be working as scientists this year and need to know how to use these tools properly.

Lesson Overview- 5 E Lesson Planning

5 minutes

Unit 1: Scientist Training Camp

Lesson 2: Science Tools

5E Lesson Planning:

I plan most of my science lessons using the BSCS 5E Lesson Model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. For a quick overview of the model, take a look at this video.

I use this lesson model because it peaks the students' interest in the beginning during the "Engage" portion and allows for the students to actively participate in the investigations throughout the subsequent steps. The “Evaluate” component of the 5E Lesson Model can be used in many ways by the teacher and by the students.

A great resource for lesson plan frameworks and explanations is the Community Resources for Science. The 5E Lesson Planning Template and 5E Lesson Planning Prompts come from this website.

Unit Overview:

In this unit, students will learn about the tools and safety guidelines that are necessary for conducting science investigations. They will also be setting up a Science Notebook and learning about the difference between a scientist and an engineer.

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students will learn about the tools that scientists use. They will use mobile devices (iPads and iPods) to read QR Codes, watch videos about how to use the tools, and take notes about how to use the tools.

Materials Needed:

Handheld device or tablet that has a QR Code Reading Application (I use "QRReader")

Printed "stations" posted around the room that include the QR Code

Copies of the Science Tools Notetaking Sheet.


Next Generation Science Standards:

In this Unit I will be introducing the students to the different Next Generation Science Standards by showing them an overview of the Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science & Engineering Practices. 

In the last few lessons of the Unit we will be using some of the Science and Engineering Practices to design an experiment and to go through the Engineering Design process.


10 minutes

I let the students sit at their science tables (I have already placed them in science groups) and I step out of the room for a second. I make sure to put on a lab coat and safety glasses. I might even dress up in a silly scientist costume to pretend that we have a special guest (I saw a teacher do this recently and it was really fun). I walk back into the room carrying a large tool box with tools used for home repair (hammer, screwdriver, nails, drill, etc.).

I ask the students what I am carrying and why I have these items. They know that what I have is a tool box and then I ask them what is usually in a tool box. A few name some of the tools (hammer, screwdriver, plyers, wrench) and I take the tools out as the students name them. I then ask them if these tools are what are usually used by scientists and they say no.  I tell them that today they will be learning about the tools that scientists use and that since they are becoming scientists they will get a chance to practice using these tools today and throughout the year.


45 minutes

I decide to use QR codes for teaching the students about the science tools. We have a class set of iPads and I make sure that the QR Reader App is installed. There are several of these apps and I like using the one called "QRReader". I create the QR codes for each tool on this website. All of the tools except for the last one (the plastic syringe) have video tutorials on YouTube. The last tool has a text demonstration from a science website. 

If you are not familiar with QR Codes or how to use them in the classroom, this website Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything has a great tutorial about using QR Codes and talks about different ways to use them in the classroom. 

I explain to the students that I have placed different QR code sheets around the room and that they will be using an iPad or iPod to scan the QR code at each station. I show them how to do this on the iPad. I also explain to them that they need to take notes about the tools at each station by using this Science Tools Notetaking sheet. I tell the students that this sheet is for recording information or steps that they learn from the videos as well as to write any notes down when they get to practice using the tools later. I tell them to record key words they hear from the videos as well as steps they need to take to be able to use the tool.

Since all of the resources are web based, I also need to make sure that all of our devices can access our internet and that they can also access YouTube. We have filters on our campus that only allow access to YouTube for a certain amount of time and we need to use a log in to access it.



15 minutes

After the students have visited each station and taken notes about how to use each tool, they return to their tables and work together to practice using each of the tools.

I create 9 Stations for the groups of students to work through (they will only practice using the tools at 3 stations, but having 9 makes the groups smaller).  I write the Directions for Using Science Tools on the board. 

Station 1: I tell the students to use the pan balance and spring scale to measure the mass and weight of a few objects (I have a collection of beanie babies and give one to each table group to use).  Here are students Using a Spring ScaleUsing a Pan Balance, and Students Using a Pan Balance

Staion 2: I give the students a piece of string to measure its length using the measuring tape and I tell them that they can measure other items around the room. Student using Measuring tape and Another student using measuring tape

Station 3: I also give each table group a small pitcher of water to practice with the plastic syringe and graduated cylinder. I also have them use this water to measure temperature with the thermometer and give them some ice to cool down a water sample to compare. I tell the students to also write down notes on their notetaking sheet while they are practicing with the tools. Students using graduated cylinder and plastic syringe plunger.

As the students are practicing with the Science Tools, I tell them to write their measurements down on their notetaking sheet as well as make any notes for themselves for when we use the tools at a later time.