Mad Science: Teaching the Scientific Method

Did the first week just really come and go? My goodness! I feel like I sat down to do the pre-game shows at RCA (did y'all watch them on Ron's Periscope?) months ago, yet it also feel like it never even happened.

Although we had a lot of fun going on in that first hour on our first day, you better believe that we hit that content hot and heavy as soon as the back to school party ended. Here is what went down in science this week. I will have to post what we did in reading later on. 

If you want to check out what we learned live on Periscope, I will be on around 8:00 PM EST tonight! 

This year, my students will be working in lab groups as they complete a variety of science experiments. Each group will have four students with different roles. I wanted the students to determine which student would be in charge of what role. In order to help them get to know one another's strengths and figure out which student would best fill each role, I had them complete a little activity that I am sure you all know called Saving Sam. 

Only, I made one slight change. As they were trying to find a way to get Sam into the safety raft and back onto the boat, they must remain completely silent. Here is a look at the kids working in collaborative groups. 

That moment when you've tried 10,000 other strategies and in the final seconds, you manage to make it happen! 

That little silent curve ball made it quite challenging. 

I am happy to report that all 10 groups were able to effectively save Sam! This was a great conversation starter to what you noticed from your teammates. What happened when things got a little frustrating? How did your lab group react? Did you notice that someone only wanted things to go there way or only wanted you to follow their possible strategies? 

This really made the kids begin to think about their lab group and which student would fit best in each role. After the activity, I gave the students about three minutes to determine their roles for the quarter {leader, manager, note taker, communicator}. 

This lab group idea came from my mad science partner, Daniel Thompson. Daniel and I will be doing a Periscope tomorrow to explain this in further detail. You will thank him later. It is pretty genius! 

The following day my students walked into this...

They will now sit in specific seats for the remainder of the quarter that are specific to their roles. 

I taught them the six steps to the scientific method using a song that I wrote to Hit the Quan. I am not trying to sing that for y'all {LOL!} so I will share that later on in the week. I might have to make some kids stay after school and sing it for y'all. 

After I taught the six steps in detail, and I showed them how they truly use the method all day er' day, we had a little rewind to step four. I began walking them through what their lab reports would be expected to look like this year. They have some pretty extensive lab reports, and step four is all about the experiment which must include the procedure for completing the experiment. 

On the tables, I had everything set up for the students to make s'morewiches. We don't have a microwave in the room, so we just used crackers, chocolate spread, and marshmallow spread. 

The students were each given a 3x5 card and asked to write the steps to making a s'morewich. They all were commenting about how easy this assignment was and how they had nailed the procedure. I said...hmmm...okay...let me have one of your cards. I quickly went to work following the steps they had written out. This is what I ended up with: 

The student's directions: 

1) Get the Graham crackers out of the box and put them on your plate. 
2) Use a knife to spread the chocolate on the crackers. 
3) Use a knife to spread the marshmallow on the crackers.  
4) Place a Graham cracker on top. 

Ummm...they failed to mention many things here. :) It was a disaster. 

The students quickly realized they've got a lot of work ahead of them. When they are working as a scientist, they must be extremely specific. I had them trade cards with a partner and get to work. Here is what we ended up with: 

It was messy and a complete disaster {not one student had correct procedures}...but let me tell you something....these scientists now get it! They GET it! Tons of lightbulbs going off. 

We had a quick discussion about what went wrong and how we can improve. 

I mean, am I really going to be able to eat this?!? 

Unfortunately, they were not able to eat the s'morewiches because they were a mess and didn't nail the procedures. Better luck next time! :) In fact, better luck Tuesday. They must bring back proper instructions for breaking down how to make a s'morewich. We will see how it all turns out and if they finally get to eat those delish treats. 

This week, we will be diving right into lab reports while reviewing the steps for the scientific method. We will also be covering lab safety and tools. I have several labs and activities planned, so I will be sure and come back to share some updates.

Hope y'all are having a nice long weekend. This mad scientist is signing off for now! :) 


  1. I have done the worm activity several times so far. I start off the year with my 4th and 5th graders as we learn the scientific process. I am working with my 4th graders this year on a new camp pack...our kiddos don't really get to go to I am bringing the camp to them! I also am doing something very similar with what we call "s'mores indoors!" We have to create experiences whenever we can! Teaching K-5th grade lets me do that each day! I love your blog and I love that you also teach science! It seems like it is always the first to go! Can't wait to see more!

    Renee from The Science School Yard

  2. How fun! I want to be in your class :)

  3. You are such an awesome teacher!

  4. Could you post about the four group jobs and their descriptions?