YOU are a scientist

Trudy Gunderson, Pearson Elementary, Shakopee, MN based on 'Wonder Wander' at the Elementary Inquiry and Assessment Institute, August 2008
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In this inquiry field lab, students will observe nature by jotting down things observed and then one thing they wonder about, related to that observation, in their science journals. After sharing as a group, and with teacher guidance, students will write and answer an investigable question, recording and sharing data collected with the whole class. (This lesson is an introduction to a 'Be a Scientist' unit. The activity will lead to readings and discussion about how all scientists 'wonder', and oftentimes that 'wondering' leads to inventions and discoveries.)

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Learning Goals

1.) develop observation and data recording skills
2.) write and answer an investigable question
3.) practice scientific methods.

Students will discover that investigations can take place anywhere. They will also understand that when we ask ourselves questions about what we notice through our senses, we are thinking like a scientist.



Context for Use

This lesson is designed for use as a field study for a classroom of 20-25 second graders during the first quarter of school. To ensure that there is enough time to observe and wonder, record, discuss, and then create and answer an investigable question and share results, you may need 1-2 hours to complete this lesson. Your students will need a pencil, a T chart, and a science journal or some other place to record observations, wonderings and data collected during the investigation.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students will be asked to work in groups of 3-5 to make 5-10 observations in a nature area, recording on a T chart what they observe and one thing they wonder about that observation. When all groups have at least 5 observations and wonders, I will ask each group to pick at least 2 of their favorite wondering questions. We will come together as a group and share those questions to develop an investigable question for each group or one investigable question for the class, depending upon the abilities of the group.
Students will research the investigable question and record data in a science journal. This data will include a question (title), procedure, results with words or pictures, and a conclusion. Once everyone has finished, we will share what was discovered for each question.

-Colored pencils
-T chart paper
-Science journal

Teaching Notes and Tips

Students may need lots of guidance to make observations and 'I wonder' questions. Doing some together as a group may help to get students started.
Students will need help writing investigable questions and may need assistance with documenting discoveries.
You may wish to put non-writers and limited writers into groups with stronger writers, so you have most students collecting and recording data. Expect all students to document in their journals, with words, pictures, or both.


T-charts, science journals and participation,noted by teacher observation throughout the entire process, will be used to assess students.


2.I.A.4 (everyone can do science and invent things and ideas), 2.I.B.1 (use appropriate tools to gather and organize data), 2.I.B.2 (recognize and describe patterns in data)

References and Resources