Scientific Observation Activity
In this activity, students learn how to "do" science on their own by exploring their observations of the world around them. Once a student has made an observation, they are asked to create a question about that observation (typically beginning with the words "why" or "how"). Students then make additional observations that are relevant to their question. Using these additional observations, the student answers his/her question and then forms additional hypotheses (inferences) about the process (going beyond the data they have collected to make a prediction) or develops additional questions about the process and discuss how they would proceed to answer these questions. Ideally this activity would be repeated at least once during the term.
Process of Science Goals
Process goals for this activity are for students to make critical observations and learn to think logically / scientifically. A secondary process goal is for students to recognize and separate observations and inference.
Context for Use
This activity could be easily extended to a term-long project. Students would begin the term by making an observation and adding more observations, questions, and hypotheses throughout the term. Alternatively, students could repeat the activity occasionally throughout the term, making more complex observations and inferences through course of the term.
Description and Teaching Materials
Description of the Scientific Observation Activity (Microsoft Word 32kB Jun27 09)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Also, observations should be about something they don't already know or understand. A common observation in the fall is leaves changing color, with common responses concerning the loss of chlorophyll in the fall. If they didn't already know about this process, they couldn't have come up with this on their own unless they have access to a microbiological laboratory.
If repeating this activity during a single term, you might try giving students different subjects to help narrow their focus (e.g., trees and vegetation, weather, rocks, manmade structures, etc.)