More info about the Scientific Method
(outlined for 5th/6th grade but can be a good starting point for younger children)
As you are doing your investigation, keep a log book and include all of these steps.
- You need to start with a question that can be answered by doing an experiment.
- Often finding a topic is the hardest part. There are a lot of good books and websites with ideas for science fair topics.
- Find something that interests you and keep it simple. Ask yourself “I wonder what would happen if I ………? questions. If you like to fly paper airplanes – ask yourself “I wonder what kind of paper makes a paper airplane fly the farthest?”
- Make sure that you can answer yes to all the following:
- I can repeat this experiment at least 3 times to check for validity.
- I have enough time to complete the experiment.
- I have permission (from home) to do this experiment and it follows all rules of the science fair.
- I can get all the materials I will need to do the experiment.
- My question cannot be answered with only “yes” or “no”.
- I am interested enough in the topic to see the investigation through to the end.
- Use all of the information you already have and your experiences to make an educated guess that answers your question.
- A hypothesis can be stated as an “if – then” statement. If I do this, then I think this will happen. (example: if I make a paper airplane out of construction paper, then I think it will fly farther than an airplane made from regular paper)
- A good hypothesis will identify the subject of the experiment, state what is being measured, and the results expected.
- Variables – things that change during an experiment. Remember, you need to conduct a controlled experiment.
- Independent variable – what you change in your experiment (in our airplane example, the independent variable would be the type of paper used.)
- Dependent variable – what responds to the changes you make (In our airplane example, it would be the distance the paper airplane traveled.)
- Controlled variables – things you don’t change in the experiment (In our airplane example, they would include where the airplane was thrown, how the airplane was thrown, how the airplane was made, etc.)
- Materials – list of materials needed to carry out your experiment.
- Remember measuring tools and safety equipment.
- Try to list out exact amounts and brand names if you know them.
- Make sure you have enough material to do at least 3 repetitions.
- Procedure – step-by-step directions to carry out the experiment.
- List out exactly what you are going to do.
- Number your steps.
- You want your procedure to be so detailed that another student could follow your procedure and do the experiment exactly the same way you did without your help.
- Make sure you include at least 3 repetitions.
- Data collection – collect data by making observations and measurements over a period of time.
- Use charts and tables to keep your data organized. It is best to draw out a table to record data before you start your experiment so you don’t forget anything.
- If something unexpected happens as you are collecting your data, write it down.
- Conclusion – evaluate the results you obtained in your experiment.
- This is where you put what you learned from your experiment.
- State whether your data supports or does not support your hypothesis.
- Discuss any problems you had and suggestions for how to improve the experiment.
- If your experiment did not answer your question, don’t throw the whole thing out. Use your conclusions to explain that the question is still unanswered, explain what your results are, and suggest how the experiment could be modified.
- What dog treats do dogs prefer?
- What kind of juice cleans pennies best?
- Where does a banana brown faster?
- How do different liquids affect plant growth?
- How does the height a ball is dropped from affect the height of its bounce?
- Which type of fabric dries faster?
- What types of liquids will melt ice faster?
- What brand of microwave popcorn pops the most kernels?
- Which colors do worms prefer?
- Which soap dissolves the fastest?
- Which plant food makes bean seed grow the fastest?
- How does the air pressure in a basketball affect how high it bounces?
- Which freezes faster – water or salt water?
- How does the type of surface affect how fast a toy car goes?
- How does the amount of light affect how a lima bean grows?
- Does ground type, (concrete or grass) affect a runner’s speed?
- How does the temperature of a ball affect how high it can bounce?
- How does getting wet affect how high a tennis ball can bounce?
- How does noise affect a person’s ability to memorize things?
- What kind of bat can hit a baseball farther?
- Does one color popsicle melt faster than the others?
- Do cookies bake faster on different types of pans?
- Does sand, red clay, or soil absorb more water?
- Which band-aid stays on longest under water?
- In what kind of cup will my soda warm up fastest?
- How will the length of a string affect the number of swings on the pendulum?
- How will the height a water balloon is dropped affect the “splat size”?
- What brand of Ice Cream will melt faster?
- Discovery Science Fair Central (excellent site from discoveryeducation.com)
- Science Fair Ideas (endless ideas, very well categorized, from eHow.com)
- More Science Fair Ideas (grouped by grade and topic from education.com)
- Kahn Academy (videos and tutorials for researching just about any topic)
- Scientific Method (from sciencebob.com)
- Design Your Experiment using Dependent, Independent and Controlled Variables (from sciencemadesimple.com)
- More Project Ideas (from sciencemadesimple.com)
- 10 Great Inventions Dreamt Up By Kids (kids are some of the best inventors! Here’s an article to get you inspired, and your imagination rolling)
- Watch the Design Process in Action (tons of resources from PBS Kids Design Squad and NASA)
Hollywood Hill Elementary School Links:
- Hollywood Hill Website
- Hollywood Hill STEM Program
- Like Hollywood Hill STEM on Facebook
- Follow Hollywood Hill STEM on Twitter @HHSTEM
- PTA Website
- PTA Facebook Page
- PTA Pinterest Page (hint, hint, much of it is devoted to STEM and science fair ideas!)
*Thursday, Jan. 26
• REVIEW POSSIBLE TOPICS, BRAINSTORM QUESTION/HYPOTHESIS (record in journal)
*Monday, Jan. 30
• Topic DUE TODAY
*Friday, Feb. 3
• Question and Hypothesis DUE TODAY (in journal)
• BEGIN DRAFT OF PROCEDURES AND MATERIALS LIST (in journal)
*Friday, Feb. 10
• Draft of Procedures and Materials List DUE TODAY (in journal)
• BEGIN EXPERIMENT and record data in your journal
*Friday, Feb. 17
• Final list of Materials, Procedures, and Data DUE TODAY (in journal)
• BEGIN WRITING CONCLUSION (in journal)
*Friday, Feb. 24
• Conclusion DUE TODAY (in journal)
• Science Boards should be coming home
• BEGIN WORKING ON YOUR SCIENCE DISPLAY BOARD:
Color? Paper? Graph? Font? Pictures? How will you display your project information?
*Monday, Mar. 6 – Class presentations might begin
*Thursday, Mar. 9
• Science Boards DUE TODAY
• Science boards delivered to gym for set-up
*Friday, Mar. 10
• STEM Fair in gym, 6:00pm
How can I help?
If you’re interested, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to join the team!