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Science Skills: Applying the Scientific Method

Teach the skills!
Teach the skills!
Teach the skills!

I know I have been absent from blog writing lately, but I started back to school this week.  Since many of you are still planning for the new year, and haven't actually started back to school yet, I wanted to continue with my series of articles about teaching the "science skills".

Teaching the “science skills” is of the utmost importance.   If the skills are taught properly at the beginning of the school year, your students will be equipped with the tools they need to be successful for the rest of the year.  Science is more than the memorization of a long list of facts.  Science is problem solving, analyzing, predicting and experimenting.  We are seeing changes in how students are being tested in science on such national tests as the ACT and AP exams, and in stated mandated end of course tests.   Make the teaching of basic science skills a priority in your class.

In a previous article, I talked about the importance of graphing skills.  Today, I want to talk about the importance of being able to apply the scientific method.  The key word here is...... apply.  You may be thinking, "I teach the scientific method every year during the first week of school."  Many teachers have their students write down the 5 or 6 steps to scientific method, define some keywords such as hypothesis and variable, re-state the 6 steps in a test, and ....DONE!  Time to move on to the next topic.

What is paramount at the beginning of your school year is to give assignments that do the following:
  • Reinforce graphing skills.
  • Teach students to interpret and analyze a graph.
  • Provide writing prompts to teach students how to design a controlled experiment.
  • Teach students to identify the independent and dependent variables in an experiment.
  • Teach students how to apply the scientific method to a particular scenario.
  • Give students practice in scientific writing.
Please get away from using only multiple choice, true and false, and matching questions.  I try as much as possible to have my students WRITE.  It is very time consuming to grade, but when students are asked "to design an experiment to show..." , you are teaching so many of the above skills.  And you are not just teaching the scientific method.  You are reinforcing critical thinking, problem solving, and best of all good writing skills.

I have a FREE scientific method PowerPoint that I would love for you to download.  This is a 26 slide PowerPoint presentation on the nature of science and the scientific method.  The slides are colorful and visually appealing.  Steps of the scientific method are covered, but more importantly, the lesson provides examples and practice problems illustrating the application of the scientific method.  Analysis questions and answers are included.  The download will also include 4 pages of notes for the teacher and a 5 page notes outline for the student.  Students will fill in their outline as the Powerpoint is being presented.

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1 comment:

  1. You mean I can't just teach them the steps to the scientific method and move on!? Haha, just kidding!

    I plan to have my students design an experiment (with guided parameters of course) and complete the scientific method with it during week 2 of school. I'm excited to see the wheels in their head turn as they get excited that they have created an experiment, not me.

    (I did this during a long-term subbing position last year and the students loved it)

    Again, love your tips! Hope your 1st week of school has been as good as it can be!