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Benchmark Lesson

Benchmark Lesson: Scientific Method


Purpose:  The purpose of this lesson is to develop an understanding and appreciation of the scientific method.  Students will learn how to use the scientific method when developing and carrying out an investigation or experiment. 

  1. NSES:

        Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students (p30).  It is important for the students to do the investigating themselves.  In this lesson, students will identify a problem, develop a plan and investigate.

        Teachers focus inquiry predominately on real phenomena, in classrooms, outdoors, or in laboratory settings, where students are given investigations or guided toward fashioning investigations that are demanding but within their capabilities (p.31).  Again, students will identify a problem that is relevant or important to them.  Experiments will not be dictated to students. 

        Inquiry is a multifaceted activity that involves making observations, posing questions; examining books and other sources of information to see what is already known; planning investigations; reviewing what is already known in light of experimental evidence; using tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data; proposing answers, explanations, and predictions; and communicating the results (p23).  This lesson will address all of these concepts through the focus on the scientific method. 

        A fundamental aspect of a community of learners is communication.  Effective communication requires a foundation of respect and trust among individuals (p. 50).  Students will learn to communicate their findings to the class, and the class will learn to ask appropriate questions.       

b.      Scientific Method:

        Identify problem



o       Independent

o       Dependent

o       Confounding





        Presenting Information

c.       Students will develop their own experiments in small groups.  A list of examples will be provided which students may use, but are not limited to:

        Does a plant grow better in light or dark environment?

        Does a banana rot faster on a counter or in a refrigerator?

        Does a plant always grow up?

        Do mice change their feeding habits in different environments?


  1. In small groups, students will develop a number of possible problems to investigate.
  2. Class discussion and note taking about the scientific method.  A limited amount of time will be spent explaining the skills and concepts involved in the scientific method. 
  3. Groups will be asked to select one problem to investigate. 
  4. Groups will write one page on the problem, hypothesis, variables and procedure for their specific investigation.
  5. Investigations
  6. Poster boards will be used to display hypothesis, variables, procedure, research, data, graphs and conclusions. 
  7. Groups will present their experiments to the class.
  8. Class will be invited to ask the group questions about experiments, and encouraged to make suggestions. 
  9. Posters will be put on display in the classroom.



1.      Choosing an appropriate experiment for the classroom setting.

2.      Developing hypothesis and procedure and identify the variables.

3.      Staying on task during investigations.  Do students follow the procedure they developed, and if not do they make the necessary adjustments needed?

4.      Poster: This will be the largest assessment and will show whether students can identify the methods they have used.  There will be a rubric detailing what must appear in the poster.

5.      Presentation of the poster.

6.      Short activity worksheet that asks more general questions about the scientific method and its steps.


Skills Demonstrated:

  1. Students must demonstrate that they can develop a correct hypothesis.
  2. Students must demonstrate that they understand variables, and that they can identify variables in an experiment. 
  3. Students must demonstrate that they can take correct measurements.
  4. Students must demonstrate that they can create graphs to actually represent their data. 


Written October 8th, 2006