What is a Scientist? What is an Engineer?

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SWBAT describe what scientists and engineers do and what steps they take in either conducting experiments or solving problems.

Big Idea

This year my students will become scientists and engineers and in this lesson they will learn about the similarities and differences between these two.

Lesson Overview- 5 E Lesson Planning

5 minutes

Unit 1: Scientist Training Camp

Lesson 6: What is a Scientist? What is an Engineer?

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 what scientists and engineers do and they will compare and contrast the 2.


10 minutes

I use the following worksheet: Engineer Scientist Mathematician Formative Assessment to find out what students know about Scientists and Engineers. (You could also do the Mathematician part, but I skipped this one). It is a free resource I found on Teachers Pay Teachers found here.

I use this as a pre-assessment to see what the students understand about these two occupations. I also tell them that they should be writing more than one sentence on the worksheet even though it says to write one. 

Almost all of my students have a good understanding of what a scientist is or does, although they aren't quite sure about how they go about being a scientist. Several of my students were stumped about what an engineer is or does. A few of my students have parents who are engineers, but they aren't sure what they do in their work.



30 minutes

I then show the students the following video and tell them to write a few key words they hear the kids say in the video.  I tell the students to write their notes on the same worksheet we used for the pre-assessment. Some students decided to divide their sheets. Here is a student's Pre-assessment with notes-scientist

I then have them watch this video about "What is an engineer?" And tell the students to write some key words down on theor pre-assessment worksheet. Pre-assessment with notes-engineer

I then ask the students to share some similarities and differences between scientists and engineers by doing an "All Write Round Robin". This cooperative learning strategy requires that every student in a group of 4 writes an idea on a piece of paper. (insert video)


10 minutes

After the students complete the All Write Round Robin, I tell them that they are going to complete a Scientist and Engineer venn diagram to show what they learned. As I show the class an example of a Venn diagram, the students say that it is a form for looking at 2 things and writing about what they are. I then ask the students what the overlapping section of the Venn Diagram is for and they aren't sure. I tell them that it's for writing about the similarities between an engineer and a scientist while the other sections are for writing about the differences. I then ask the students what other terms we use for discussing similarities and differences and one student remembers that we talk about compare and contrast. Here are some students' Venn Diagrams: Venn DiagramVenn diagram 2, and Venn Diagram 3