Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists


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Your plan must include a detailed list of materials, and a detailed list of steps, or procedure, you will follow to conduct the experiment. I make sure students are aware that they want other people to be able to repeat their experiment, by following their steps exactly as they completed them. The other person should get the same results from following these steps. I remind students of the importance of organizing their data so that it is easy to analyze.

Data charts are used to help organize our work. We discuss what the word analyze means as well as the word conclusion. We decide together that this step means to look at the data and see what happened. I inform them that they should be restating their hypothesis and telling what evidence they collected to support it.

This can be done later if you do not feel comfortable drawing quick pictures. With our anchor chart and front of the foldable complete, it is time to practice identifying these steps. I have a large sheet of construction paper, trifolded like the foldable, but it is not cut to make six flaps, hanging on the whiteboard.

The steps are all out of order and are not labeled. Picture of magnetic experiment strips. I ask students to identify which of the strips would fit step one. I do not ask which shows a question because it makes them think about what step one is, then find the strip that matches. When students identify the question correctly, I have them come move it to the correct location on the large sheet of construction paper inside, top left.

I ask what makes a good question for an experiment. This is checking for understanding from the warm up as well as allowing students who need that repetition to hear it, and see it, again. When a student answers that it has to be testable, I record on the inside flap of the anchor chart and they record in the same location on their foldable.

Next, I ask which magnetic strip is step two. A student selects the correct one, and comes up to move it to the large sheet of construction paper in the correct place inside, left, middle. Again I ask for clarification on how a hypothesis should be written, and we open our foldables to record this information. As I pass them out, I tell students not to touch them until I give them directions. When I see all students are finished gluing, and have their notebooks closed, I explain that they will be organizing some experiment strips for real experiments just as we did for the guided practice activity.

I make this activity a race against all other groups, two points will be awarded for the first group to get it correct, and one point for each group that gets it correct after. I instruct them to raise quiet hands when they have finished and I will come over to check their work. The first thing I have them organize are the headings for each step. I ask them to put these in the correct location on their boards.


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Students all start at the same time and I circulate while they work. When hands begin going up, I mark on the board which team was 1 st , 2 nd , 3 rd , and so on. I check the first team by holding up their board and reading off where they have each label. They have it correct and get two points.

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I circulate to quickly check all other groups, and award each one that got it correct with one point. Students putting headings on. I have students leave the headings on the board for the next 3 races. Next, I pass out the experiment practice strips set 1 to each group. When all groups have a set, I tell them to read through each one, figure out which step of the process it is, and place it in the correct position on the board.

Important regulations

I remind them to raise quiet hands when they finish. After giving the ok to begin, I circulate until I see hands going up, at which point I begin noting the order on the board. After all groups finish, I hold up the board from the first group finished and read off each step to check for correctness. After checking, I circulate to quickly check the other groups. As I am checking other groups I am having students give me some information about key words, or other items that helped them identify the steps quickly. While I award points on the board, I ask groups to remove the experiment practice strips and shuffle them.

I remind them not to remove the headings.

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Students putting experiment steps on. I collect the set one strips, and pass out experiment practice strips set 2. We do the same race process for this set and then for experiment practice strips set 3 as well. After the last race, students remove both the experiment practice strips, and the headings from their boards.

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Science Projects & Science Fair Project Ideas

The person I call on from each group brings those items, along with their board to the front table. While they return those materials, I ask students how many of them have ever heard of the five second rule for dropping food on the ground. Just about every hand in the room goes up. I ask how many of them believe that rule to be true. I explain that this is a great real world situation where the scientific method was used.

They will read the short article, and then answer the questions on the exit slip as they appear in the article. After they complete the exit slip, they turn it into the basket. I can use this to check for individual understanding on knowledge of the steps, as well as their ability to apply the knowledge to various real world situations.

All students are encouraged to use their reading strategies such as underlining information, jotting down notes in the margin, etc.

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Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists
Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists
Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists
Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists
Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists Science Fair Warm-Up, Grades 8–12: Learning the Practice of Scientists

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