Do your students struggle with all things scientific method? Let me share some quick and easy scientific method tips and tricks that have helped my students to feel more confident as they identify variables, write hypotheses, create graphs, and write conclusions.
SCIENTIFIC METHOD TIP #1 – Identifying Variables
Independent, dependent, constants….oh my! I remember struggling with identifying variables as a student. It can be so confusing!
- Independent Variable Try having your students circle the “I” in the word independent as you go through notes or worksheets. We repeat over and over that this is the “thing that “I” change (on purpose).”
- Dependent Variable The formal definition (the thing that changes as a result of the independent variable) is sooooooo confusing! I like to tell my students that the dependent variable is the thing we “measure.”
- Constants They stay constantly the same!
SCIENTIFIC METHOD TIP #2 – Writing a Hypothesis
In sixth grade, I teach my students to write a simple hypothesis using an if/then statement.
Why use an if/then statement?
Using an if/then statement helps them to be sure that their hypothesis includes both an independent and dependent variable!
Once students can easily identify the independent and dependent variables, I give them the formula:
If IV, then DV
I like to use non-scientific examples to help students hear the causal relationship between the IV and DV in the hypothesis. I usually state the first part and let them complete the rest.
If I stay up all night, (then……)
If I eat junk food all day, (then….)
If I study for the test, (then….)
I like to make a game of a bunch of examples like the ones above. They get the concept really quickly!
SCIENTIFIC METHOD TIP #3 – Setting Up a Graph
“What goes on the x-axis?” It’s the never ending question when creating a graph after a scientific method lab!!!
Here’s a “handy” tip to help your students set up graphs correctly: (Couldn’t resist!)
- Have students hold up their left hand in an “L” shape.
- Ask which is independent, the thumb or the fingers?
- Easy answer, of course it’s the thumb!
- Now overlay the thumb on a graph and show them how the thumb is independent and lines up with the x-axis. The independent variable always goes on the x-axis!
- This works for the fingers too – all four are together. They’re “dependent” on each other! The dependent variable goes on the y-axis which lines up with the pointer finger.
I like to have students trace a hand in their notes and label where the independent and dependent variables go, like the pictures below!
If you’re looking for resources to help students with graphing, check out this post:
SCIENTIFIC METHOD TIP #4 – The Conclusion
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of using claim, evidence, and reasoning to help students build scientific writing and thinking skills!
One of my favorite places to practice CER is the conclusion paragraph for the scientific.
Claim, evidence, and reasoning is an amazing way to check and see if they really grasped the concept the lab was teaching – if not, they were just having a really good time playing in the classroom!
Why use the CER as a conclusion?
- It answers the problem they were trying to solve.
- They use meaningful data to support their claim.
- It ends with a scientific connection!
If you’re interested in learning more about using CER to improve student’s scientific thinking and writing skills, take a look at this blog post!
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“This resource was very helpful in teaching my students CER. I did it with my 6th grade and I found it very easy to use. They were engaged and really enjoyed the videos. I think it was a great way to teach them about this difficult topic. I am doing the M&M activity tomorrow and I know they will love that too. So glad I bought this bundle!” – Tina