This is part of a science experiment. It could be used with any experiment. This is the first time students have written a prediction to an investigative question in fourth grade. I've already introduced the experiment, the parts of the experiment and the procedures. We've also already discussed background information about the topic. Now students are ready to respond to the question before conducting the experiment.
I first explain to students that science journals are used by professionals to record notes as they do the experiment so that they can notice trends or changes over time. Science journals are also used by scientists to share their notes and data with other scientists. Therefore, we have to include important parts when we are preparing for an experiment.
First we title it, write the date, and write the question that we are trying to answer. Somewhere near by we will have a space to record information. Before we start the experiment, we need to think about what is a possible outcome and record it in our prediction. This helps us focus as we observe the results of the experiment.
A prediction is your best guess answer to the experimental/investigative question and explanation why we think that way before we conduct the experiment.
After I define what a science prediction is, I guide students in writing one as I demonstrate it in front of the class.
I write, "I predict that the living and nonliving things in the terrarium will change in many ways over time. For example, I think the alfalfa will ..."
The current investigative/experimental question is: How do you predict the living and nonliving things in the terrarium will change over time? How might they affect each other?
First, students need to respond to whether or not they think the living and nonliving things will change. In order to do that, they need to refer to a specific example of how living and nonliving things affect each other.
I ask students to decide if they think there will be changes or not and to complete the first part of their prediction in their journal. Then I ask them to think about what sort of changes might happen and why it will happen. The should use the words, "I think" because they are not sure yet and don't have evidence from the science experiment to use as factual support.
After students have completed their prediction, I ask them to share it with other students in their science groups.
I remind them that a prediction is written before an experiment is conducted. However, once its written, it doesn't get revised. Instead, a conclusion is written that may refer to the prediction being correct or incorrect. After explaining that to students, I ask them not to change their prediction after they write it.