Scientific method with a twist

The scientific method is a topic that many science teachers review at the beginning of the year. However, it can be hard to find new and exciting ways to teach it to students year after year. Personally, I find that students come to me still unsure of many steps even though they have conducted experiments using the scientific method for at least two years by the time I get them in seventh grade.

This year, my plan of attack is going to be different. I am going to try a new approach. I am going to begin the year by having my students design their own experiment before I review the steps of the scientific method. Doing the experiment first gives me real life examples to pull from. When I try to get students to understand what a variable is or what a control is in an experiment I will be able to use examples from their own experiments.

While they are doing the experiment, the students will use flip cameras to film themselves, or use their cell phones to take pictures of their team designing and executing their experiments. When they finish the experiment, they will have to write a caption for each scene they filmed or photographed. The movie will show and tell where they struggled with the design or data analysis. This should make the ultimate teaching tools. The students will have lived the method first and then be asked to identify which step is which from watching the videos they produced.

Consequently, when I ask questions about controlling variables, or is the experiment a fair test, it should make the concepts real and easier to understand. The film and the discussion should make the students see the connection between the scientific method and themselves. It should act as a guided practice for how they will independently design an experiment for the science fair.

My test this year on scientific method will also have a twist. Instead of the normal, name the steps of the scientific method ,and identify the variables in the experiment typed on the paper, I am going to use an alternative assessment. My plan is to use assignment builder and assign my students to watch MythBusters and while they watch the video have them record which part of the show is the experimental design. Ask them to explain what happens when the guys on MythBusters have problems with their design. What did the MythBusters team do to prove they had busted or proven the myth.

My goal is that my teacher experiment of teaching the scientific method with a slight twist will result in my students having a stronger sense of why we use the scientific method and that this method will help them independently know how design better experiments . I will let you know how it goes. Keep your fingers crossed.


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  1. LauraHartman said:

    I like your idea of having the kids do their experiment first and then showing them how the steps of the scientific method could have given better results. This is a great way to teach that only one independent variable should be tested at a time.

    I have used Mythbusters in my classroom this year and it was GREAT. I used the Penny Drop episode and we watched it once as a class, then discussed how the scientific method was used. For the second viewing (it is only 11 minutes) the students worked in pairs to complete the worksheet provided by DE. It was engaging and the kids walked away talking about it. (Which in Middle School is a good thing)

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