Teaching the Scientific Method Through Thumb Wars

Shraddha Subramaniam

CIS 303, The Leadership and Community Service Academy

Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

August 2009


Grade Level: 6-8

Unit:  Inquiry or Scientific Method

Objective: Students will be able to identify and use the six steps of the scientific method

 Expected Time: One 45-minute period


1.       Identify a problem to solve

2.       Create a hypothesis (this includes using prior knowledge and doing research/observations)

3.       Do an experiment to test hypothesis

4.     Record the results/data

5.      Make a conclusion

6.       Repeat the experiment

Materials: Handout

Engage: The students will be told that they will be having a thumb-war competition

Exploration: The students will be following the thumb war “lab report” guide (Thumb War Worksheet) to complete the experiment and be introduced to going through the scientific method.  They will be given the problem (which member of your group will win a thumb war competition?).  They will come up with a hypothesis (based on observations and inferences), run though several trials of the experiment, take measurements and record wins.  When they are done, they will conclude if their hypothesis was correct or not and why.

Distribute Handout 

Evaluation: If they students complete all steps of the activity correctly and can end with making a conclusion about their hypothesis.  For homework, students should bring in an item that required the scientific method to create or can write a paragraph about a time they had to use the scientific method to solve a problem.

National Standards:

NS.5-8.1: As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop--