Summer Research Program for Science Teachers


Linda Vales

John Dewey High School

Brooklyn, NY

August 2004


How do we use scientific inquiry to solve the world’s problems?



Subject: Biology/Living Environment


Grade level: 9th


Length: 2-45 minute class periods + follow up activities


Standards/Understandings:  Standard 1- Key Ideas: 1.1, 2.3, And 3.1


1.1  Elaborate on basic scientific and personal explanations of natural phenomena, and develop extended visual models and mathematical formulations to represent one’s thinking.


2.3    Develop and present proposals including formal hypotheses to test explanations, i.e., predict what should be observed during specific conditions if the explanation is true.


3.1    Use various methods of representing and organizing observations (e.g., diagrams, tables, charts, graphs, equations, matrices) and insightfully interpret organized data.



Aim: How we design a scientific experiment?


Instructional Objectives:  Students will be able to:

·        K now how a scientific investigation is performed

·        Distinguish between the control group and variable group

·        Design an experiment using the scientific method.


Instructional Method: Workshop Model

Components of Balanced literacy that will be used:


Do Now/Independent reading and writing: Students will read and write a short paragraph on the validity of the following :( 5-7 minutes)


A scientist performed the following experiment to determine the effect of smoking on exercise:



                  Number of             Males         Females        Weight range              Average # 

                  Subjects                                                          (lbs)                             push ups


Smoker            35                     25                10                125-300                         30



Non-smoker    35                     12                 23                161-322                         35


She concluded that smoking had no effect on exercise.


Conferencing (5-10 minutes):  Think-Pair-Share.  Teacher walks around the room and conferences with pairs of students as they discuss their answers from the activity.  A few students will be called upon to share their answers with the rest of the class.


Read Aloud: (10 minutes) Teacher models reading as she/he reads the first paragraph of the passage to be read.  Students will read the remaining paragraphs as they remain in pairs.  Reading passage: Pages 13-16- The Scientific Method (Textbook: Biology-The Study of Life by Schraer and Stolze).


Think Aloud/Mini Lesson: (5-10 minutes) Teacher explains in more details the general steps of the scientific method and give several examples of how these steps are used in the real world, including research being done in the Laboratories at Columbia University.


Learning Activity/Application (5 minutes): Students will analyze the results of the investigation by answering the following questions:


  1. Was the Scientific Method used during the Investigation? Why or why not?


  1. Describe the mistakes this scientist made setting her experimental design?


  1. How would you change the experimental design of the Investigation in order for the results to be Valid?


Summary/Talk aloud Students share their answers with the rest of the class.


Homework assignment Students will do the following: 


A scientist claims he has found the cure to Cancer (all types) through a series of experiments


·        Write down what types of questions you might use to interview the scientist on his experimental design and his “cure”

·        Exchange questions with partners and “interview” each other.

·        Record each other’s answers and write a newspaper article about the scientist’s claim.




 Follow up Lesson and Activity


Aim: How do we carry out a scientific experiment?


Instructional Objectives: Students will be able to:



Pre-lab Activity


Name __________________________                             Date____________________



Let’s develop a controlled Experiment


Directions: Using your knowledge of the Scientific Method, complete the following the situations.


  1. Define hypothesis: __________________________________________________________________


  1.  Define experimental variable:   ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


  1. Why is it important for an experiment to contain a control?




       4. Develop a controlled experiment to back up the following hypothesis:


The ph of the environment has an effect on a fish’s ability to produce viable offspring.



a.)    List the equipment needed to carry out this experiment.



b.)    List the steps of the controlled experiment so that anyone can follow.




c.)    What is the experimental variable in your controlled experiment?



d.)    What are the control(s) of the experiment?







1. The following materials will available to you for use to conduct this investigation:



  1. Describe how your group thinks each of the material will affect the growth of the seeds?


  1. Write a hypothesis that the group can test out these materials.


  1. Design an experiment that would most directly address your hypothesis.


  1. Describe the type of research that you need to carry out the experiment.


Learning Activities/Application:


  1. Each group will submit their experimental design to another group in order to determine if the experiment follows the scientific Method.
  2. Each group will present their design to the teacher for final approval.
  3. In cooperative groups students will set their experiment according to their approved experimental design.
  4. Students will predict the outcomes of their experiment
  5. Students will measure their plants and record their observations over the span of 2 weeks.  They will then compare their predictions to their actual outcomes.
  6. Students will graph their outcomes and formulate their conclusions based on their observations


Extended Activity: Students will be asked to make a power point presentation of their research project and will take turn at presenting to the class.


Additional materials: Hand outs (Scientific Method Checklist, Experimental Design) and Graph paper.




Scientific Method Checklist




Title of Investigation


A hypothesis is stated in correct terms.

(  ) yes                                                 (  ) No, because





There is a control group and an experimental group in the study.

(  )  Yes                                                         (  ) No, because






The control group differs from the experimental group by only one variable and the other variables are the same in all groups.

(  ) Yes                                                             (  ) No, because





The Procedure is clearly stated.

(  ) Yes                                                                    (  )) No, because





Is the experiment feasible? Why or why not?








Experimental Design




















Expected Outcomes:







Experimental Data Sheet


  1. Observations: Use this table to record your observations and measurements.  You may modify the table for your experimental design.
















































































  1. Graph Your Results.


       Title of Graph




       X axis _____________________________________________________________


       Y axis ______________________________________________________________



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