Helping Your Students Become Great Scientists

Jennifer Sinsel, elementary science teacher and Lesson Planet guide, maintains that students become good scientists when they master the following science process skills:

  1. Observe
  2. Infer
  3. Measure
  4. Predict
  5. Classify
  6. Communicate

Science Journal Writing Prompt: Observations vs. Inferences

Place the picture of an object up on the front screen and invite your students to make a list of things about the photo. For example, showing the picture of an adult black labrador retriever, your students might list:

  • It is an animal.
  • The dog is black.
  • The dog is susceptible to fleas and ticks.
  • He/she probably likes water.
  • The dog has brown eyes.
  • The dog is wearing a blue collar.
  • He/she is not a puppy.

After they have finished, invite your students to share their findings with the students sitting around them, instructing them to highlight any of the listed items that can be determined directly through the use of one or more of the five senses. Explain to them that these are known as 'observations' (e.g. we can see that the dog is black and that it is wearing a blue collar) whereas the rest are most likely 'inferences', or reasonable explanations for what we have observed (e.g. we observe that the dog is an animal and therefore is most likely susceptible to fleas, etc.).

Science Journal Writing Prompt: Observing & Measuring

Provide each of your students with a sample, it could be a leaf, an insect, a shell, etc., and ask them to write down their observations. Set out several basic rulers, magnifying glasses, a balance scale, and other devices for observing and measuring.

For more lesson ideas on predicting, classifying, and communicating, check out the rest of Sinsel's post!

Teaching Science Process Skills

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