Teaching the Scientific Method

teaching the scientific method

Every middle school science teacher I know starts every school year with the scientific method. We learn the steps, we analyze how they apply in various situations, and we move on. Even if we will be using CER (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning) in lab reports, we are still teaching the scientific method at the beginning of the year. This helps students view problems from a scientific perspective. Reinforcement throughout the year (and throughout the years) helps students become scientific thinkers.

Teaching the Scientific Method – Then vs. Now

I used to teach the scientific method the same way that I was taught it. The teacher wrote the steps on the board, I copied them, and then I memorized them. They never became a part of how I thought or how I solved problems, and I had gotten the impression that this was just a process that scientists use.

Now, when I’m teaching the scientific method, I use a far more student centered approach. The scientific method is a name given to a problem solving technique that we use all the time, for everything from figuring out which boots to wear with an outfit to deciding how long to cook lasagna. So I approach the unit from an inquiry direction and allow students to investigate a problem that is relevant to them.

As students investigate the problem, I model the vocabulary words to describe what they are doing. “Mary is guessing what might happen if we change the amount of sugar in the recipe. She is forming a hypothesis.” “The taste of the finished cookies will be dependent on the ingredients we use.”

Finally, after lots of practice and metacognition analyzing how we solved the problem, I do teach the vocabulary in a more formal, traditional way. This is the slide show I use when I’m teaching the scientific method.

Teaching the scientific method from an inquiry approach by allowing students to investigate a problem and then metacognitively analyze the steps they took to solve the problem helps them become scientific thinkers.

Some problems students can solve

When you’re teaching the scientific method, what are some problems students can solve? Here’s a short list:

Here’s a list of science fair projects that can easily be adapted to a lesson on teaching the scientific method.


Free resource for teaching the scientific method

What if we could find a way for students to apply the scientific method to a problem that actually might help them? And what if this scientific method activity were a freebie?

In this resource, students are asked to try to figure out the best way to study. Is it on a full stomach, in a quiet room, or while chewing peppermint gum? Do you remember things better when you study them before you fall asleep at night or when you first wake up in the morning? What’s the best way to learn?

Using the scientific method, students analyze the problem, form a hypothesis, and design a controlled experiment to determine the effect of one variable on how well they, or their friends, memorize a list of random words. This resource includes a 6 page student hand out and a teacher’s guide with suggested answers.

Please click this link to download your free copy of the scientific method freebie!

Published by JustAddH2OTeacher

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