A Simple Introduction To The Scientific Method

The Scientific Method may seem ominous and confusing, but really simply put, it’s just a way of asking a question and then finding an answer to that question.

Scientific Method Experiment Write-Up0002 (2)

Scientists and the Scientific Method

Scientists use the scientific method to learn and study the world around them. It’s based on asking questions and trying to come up with logical answers through experimenting. Scientists start by making observations so they form a hypothesis (a big word that just means a good guess!). They experiment to test whether or not their hypothesis is right. They often keep experimenting over an over again to test and prove their answers.

There are tons of cool science experiments for kids out there, but the key to teaching science is helping them to think and solve like a scientist so they can understand WHY they got their results. Taking them through the scientific method will help them start thinking like scientists!

Introducing Kids To The Scientific Method

To introduce kids to it for the first time, you’ll definitely want something hands-on, with clear results, and of course – fun.  It’s important that you give them something they can do themselves (not just a demonstration) for a first-time run through.  Kids learn far more by doing than by just watching.

To teach the Scientific Method:

  1.  Create an anchor chart or notebooking page with the process as you discuss what each step means.
  2. Have your kids do a simple experiment.  Read on for some great introductory experiments.
  3.  Provide an Experiment Write-Up sheet that utilizes the Scientific Method so the process can be tied to the experiment.

Experiment Write-Up Sheets Using The Scientific Method

Here are three versions of experiment write-ups.  These are the pages we use with each science experiment we do.  The first is a simple black and white Experiment Write-Up sheet (especially useful if you aren’t big on extra printing costs!).  We also have a colorful version of the same sheet.  Finally, there’s a more formal middle and high-school level version that can be used as a template while your older kids type theirs.

Scientific Method Worksheet
Scientific method experiment write-up
A colorful, illustrated scientific method experiment write-up

 

The typed version I use for middle school and high school

On the more formal lab write-up  I have them type their first one, then save an empty version of it to use in future labs.  They leave the heading and bold words, then save it as their template.

Experiment One

Try this:
1.  Ask what will happen if you drop an egg from 6 feet above the ground.  Kids can record the question and then also record their hypothesis (their prediction of what will happen).  Any known information can be written down before the actual experiment is conducted.
2.  Now let them give it a try!  Measure 6 feet off the ground.  Have a kid hold an egg up from that height and drop it.  {GASP!  I know it makes a mess, but the poignancy of that moment is worth a bit of clean up, don’t you think?  Besides, I didn’t say to drop it over the carpet.}  Have the kids record their observations and write a conclusion.

egg_experiments_scientific_method

That’s your basic method, but let’s not stop there.  Why not go for another egg question?

Experiment Two

1.  Can you spin an egg like a top?  Kids will record the question, the hypothesis, and their materials, along with their plan for the experiment.
2.  Now give it a try.  Let everyone have an egg and give it a go.  {This time have some eggs raw and some eggs hard-boiled, but don’t reveal this.}  Some will spin and others will not.  Ask, “Why do some eggs act differently than others?  Do you think some of the eggs will break differently too then?
3.  Drop one egg that spins and one egg that doesn’t.  After dropping the eggs, no doubt kids will see the difference.

You may want to go back to their original scientific method experiment sheet and have them modify their results.  Real scientists are always doing that.  A scientific question is rarely completely and definitively answered.  Instead, scientists accept the best answer until a better one comes along…and with each new answer, our knowledge of our world grows.

More Experiments

Once they understand the scientific method they can use it in all their experiments.

Here are a few more experiments to try:

More From Layers of Learning

All of our units come with a complete science topic to explore.

Read our curriculum guide to learn more about Layers of Learning, our family-style hands-on homeschool curriculum.  And if you need more science ideas to make your homeschool day fantastic, just go here:
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