7 Scientific Method Steps to Teach Your Kids

7 Scientific Method Steps to Teach Your Kids


Table of content

    What’s the best way for kids to learn engineering skills?

    It's through the scientific method! This hands-on approach helps kids make an educated guess, try out a science experiment, and build strong critical thinking skills.

    Not only does it make science fun, but it also gives kids the tools to understand and explore the world around them.

    Keep reading to find out how you can turn your child into a little scientist with seven simple steps!

    Why teaching the scientific method is important for kids

    Teaching the scientific method to kids is super important because it helps them understand the world in a fun and organized way.

    When kids do science experiments, they learn to ask questions, watch what happens, and think about the results.

    This step-by-step scientific process boosts their problem-solving skills and makes them curious about everything.

    Knowing the scientific method gives kids the confidence to tackle their next science experiment with excitement, turning them into little explorers ready to learn and discover new things.

    Girl conducting a science experiment with CircuitMess DIY kit

    What is the scientific method?

    The scientific method is a step-by-step way of figuring things out.

    It starts with making observations and asking questions about what you see.

    Then, you come up with a scientific hypothesis—a smart guess about what might happen.

    Next, you test your guess with a simple science experiment to see if you were right.

    Finally, you look at the results and decide what they mean.

    This method helps kids learn how to think carefully and solve problems, making science both fun and understandable.

    Definition of the scientific method

    The scientific method is a systematic approach used to investigate observations, solve problems, and test hypotheses.

    It involves several steps:

    • making observations

    • forming a scientific hypothesis

    • conducting experiments

    • collecting data

    • drawing conclusions

    According to Britannica, the scientific method "is a method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated, and the hypothesis is empirically tested".

    TechTarget adds that it is "a method of investigation involving experimentation and observation to acquire new knowledge, solve problems, and answer questions".

    This process helps ensure that findings are reliable and can be repeated by others.

    The importance of learning the scientific method early

    Learning the scientific method early sets kids up for success in many areas. It helps them approach problems methodically and think critically.

    When kids work on a science fair project or try simple science experiments at home, they practice observing, hypothesizing, and testing.

    These skills are not only useful in science class but in everyday life too.

    Early exposure also sparks curiosity, making it easier for kids to come up with their own experiment ideas and confidently carry out each experiment.

    This foundation in the scientific method encourages lifelong learning and problem-solving.

    How to teach the scientific method to your kids — in 7 steps

    Ready to turn your kids into little scientists? Teaching them the scientific method can be fun and rewarding.

    It's all about making observations, asking questions, and testing ideas through experiments.

    Whether it's for a science fair project or just exploring the world around them, these seven steps will guide you and your kids through the process.

    From making simple observations to sharing their exciting findings, each step is an adventure in learning and discovery.

    Let’s check out these seven easy steps to help your kids master the scientific method!

    Kids conducting an experiment using the scientific method

    Step 1: Make observations

    The first step in the scientific method is making observations. Encourage your kids to look closely at the world around them.

    This could be anything from watching ants on the sidewalk to noticing how plants grow towards the light. Observations are the starting point for any scientific investigation.

    By paying attention to details, kids learn to ask questions and become curious about how things work.

    Simple activities like nature walks, observing the night sky, or even watching ice melt can spark their interest and set the stage for their next science experiment.

    Kids observing a scientific experiment (CircuitMess DIY kit)

    Encouraging kids to observe their surroundings

    Helping young kids become keen observers of their surroundings is easier than you might think.

    Start by taking them outside and exploring the natural world together. Point out different plants, animals, and weather patterns.

    Ask questions like, "What do you see?" or "How does that feel?" This not only piques their curiosity but also enhances their observation skills.

    For elementary school kids, you can turn these observations into fun activities. Have them draw what they see, keep a nature journal, or take pictures of interesting things they find.

    Encouraging kids to notice the details in their environment lays a strong foundation for their scientific journey.

    Simple observation activities

    Getting kids to observe their surroundings can be both fun and educational with these simple activities:

    1. Nature walks: Take a walk in a park or your backyard. Ask your kids to note down or draw the different plants, insects, and animals they see. Discuss their colors, shapes, and behaviors.

    2. Weather journal: Have your kids keep a daily weather journal. They can record the temperature, type of clouds, and any changes they notice throughout the day.

    3. Kitchen science: Use everyday kitchen items for observations. For example, watch how sugar dissolves in water, or what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar.

    4. Star gazing: On a clear night, look at the stars and moon. Use a simple star chart to identify constellations and track the moon’s phases.

    5. Plant growth: Plant seeds in a pot and observe their growth over time. Encourage your kids to measure the height of the plants and note changes in leaves and flowers.

    These activities help young learners engage with their environment, fostering natural curiosity and setting the stage for more detailed scientific exploration.

    Step 2: Formulate questions

    Once your kids have made their observations, the next step is to start asking questions. This is where their curiosity really comes into play.

    Encourage them to think about why things happen the way they do. Why do leaves change color in the fall? How does the sun affect plant growth?

    These questions are the seeds of scientific inquiry and lead to deeper understanding.

    By guiding your kids to formulate thoughtful questions, you help them move from just observing the world to exploring it in a meaningful way.

    This step is crucial in their journey through the scientific method.

    Guiding kids to ask scientific questions

    Helping kids ask the right questions is key to sparking their scientific curiosity. Start by encouraging them to think about what they’ve observed and what they’re curious about. Here are some tips to guide them:

    1. Start with "Why" and "How": Prompt them with questions like, "Why do you think that happened?" or "How does this work?" These open-ended questions lead to deeper thinking.

    2. Be Curious Together: Show your own interest in their observations. Ask questions alongside them to model how to be inquisitive.

    3. Encourage Specificity: Help them focus their questions. Instead of asking, "Why is the sky blue?" guide them to something more specific like, "How does the sky’s color change at sunset?"

    4. Relate to Everyday Life: Connect questions to their daily experiences. For example, "Why does ice melt faster in warm water?" relates to what they see in their drinks.

    5. Use What If Scenarios: Encourage imaginative thinking with "What if" questions, like "What if plants didn’t get sunlight?" This helps them think about cause and effect.

    By guiding kids to ask scientific questions, you’re helping them develop critical skill that will fuel their experiments and discoveries.

    Girl asking questions to learn the scientific method

    Examples of testable questions

    1. How does sunlight affect plant growth?

    2. What type of food attracts the most ants?

    3. Does the temperature of water affect how fast sugar dissolves?

    4. Which materials make the best insulators?

    5. How does the type of liquid affect the rate of evaporation?

    6. What is the effect of different types of music on plant growth?

    7. How do different surfaces affect the speed of a rolling toy car?

    8. Does the amount of baking soda change the reaction rate in a vinegar and baking soda experiment?

    Step 3: Develop a hypothesis

    After asking their scientific questions, the next step is to develop a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess about what they think will happen in their experiment.

    This prediction helps guide their investigation and makes the scientific process more engaging.

    Encouraging your kids to make a hypothesis sharpens their critical thinking skills and prepares them for the experiments ahead.

    What is a hypothesis?

    A hypothesis is an educated guess about what might happen in an experiment. According to Merriam-Webster, a hypothesis is an assumption or concession made for the sake of argument" or "a tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences".

    The BBC explains that a hypothesis "is an idea that you can test which explains what you think will happen in an experiment".

    It's a crucial part of the scientific method because it gives a clear direction for the investigation and helps scientists predict the outcome based on their observations and knowledge.

    How to formulate a hypothesis

    1. Start with a question: Begin with the scientific question they want to answer. For example, "How does sunlight affect plant growth?"

    2. Make an educated guess: Based on what they already know, have them make a prediction. For example, "If a plant gets more sunlight, then it will grow taller."

    3. Use an "If, Then" statement: Encourage them to frame their hypothesis as an "If, then" statement. For example, "If a plant is exposed to more sunlight, then it will grow taller."

    4. Be specific and testable: Ensure the hypothesis is clear and can be tested through an experiment. Avoid vague or broad predictions.

    5. Relate to their observations: Have them use their initial observations to make a more informed guess. This helps ground their hypothesis in what they've already noticed.

    Step 4: Conduct experiments

    With a hypothesis in hand, it's time to conduct experiments. This is where the fun begins! Kids get to test their guesses through hands-on activities, learning to gather data and observe outcomes.

    Conducting experiments teaches valuable skills like patience, attention to detail, and following procedures. This step is essential for validating their hypotheses and understanding the scientific process.

    Designing simple experiments

    1. Keep It simple: Choose experiments that are easy to understand and perform, using everyday materials.

    2. Clear steps: Outline the steps clearly so kids know exactly what to do. This helps them stay organized and focused.

    3. Control variables: Teach kids to change only one variable at a time while keeping everything else the same. This helps them see the effects of that one change.

    4. Repeat trials: Encourage them to repeat the experiment a few times to ensure the results are consistent.

    5. Safety first: Always prioritize safety and supervise experiments to make sure kids are conducting them safely.

    Step-by-step instructions for basic experiments

    1. Plant growth and sunlight

    • Materials: Two small potted plants, a sunny spot, a dark spot, water.

    • Steps:

      1. Place one plant in a sunny spot and the other in a dark spot.

      2. Water both plants equally every day.

      3. Observe and record their growth over two weeks.

      4. Compare the height and health of the plants.

    2. Dissolving sugar in water

    • Materials: Sugar, warm water, cold water, two clear glasses, a spoon.

    • Steps:

      1. Fill one glass with warm water and the other with cold water.

      2. Add a teaspoon of sugar to each glass.

      3. Stir each glass and observe how quickly the sugar dissolves.

      4. Record the time it takes for the sugar to dissolve in each glass.

    3. Baking soda and vinegar reaction

    • Materials: Baking soda, vinegar, a small container, a balloon.

    • Steps:

      1. Pour a few tablespoons of vinegar into the container.

      2. Add a spoonful of baking soda quickly.

      3. Immediately place the balloon over the mouth of the container.

      4. Observe the balloon inflating as the baking soda reacts with the vinegar.

    Kids conducting scientific experiment with baking soda and vinegar

    Step 5: Record results

    Recording results is crucial in the scientific method. Encourage kids to write down their observations and data during experiments.

    This helps them analyze and draw conclusions accurately. Keeping good records also reinforces learning and makes science more rewarding.

    The importance of recording observations and data

    Recording observations and data is essential in any experiment. It helps kids keep track of what happens during their experiments, ensuring they have accurate information to analyze later.

    This practice teaches them attention to detail and the importance of accuracy. Good records make it easier to see patterns, compare results, and draw meaningful conclusions, turning each experiment into a valuable learning experience.

    Kid recording scientific experiment results

    Creative ways to record results

    1. Science journals: Encourage kids to keep a dedicated science journal where they can write and draw their observations.

    2. Charts and graphs: Help them create colorful charts and graphs to visualize their data.

    3. Photo documentation: Take pictures of each experiment step and the results, then create a photo diary.

    4. Video logs: Record video logs explaining what they did and what they observed.

    5. Art projects: Turn results into art projects, like drawing the growth of a plant or making a collage of different materials tested.

    Step 6: Draw conclusions

    After recording the results, it's time to draw conclusions. Encourage kids to look at their data and see if it matches their hypothesis.

    Did the experiment go as expected? Why or why not?

    This step helps kids understand their findings and learn from the process, making science more meaningful.

    Interpreting data and drawing conclusions

    Help kids review their data and ask, "What do these results show?" and "Does this support your hypothesis?"

    Guide them to think about why the results turned out the way they did. This teaches critical thinking and the importance of evidence in science.

    How to verify results

    Verifying results is crucial to ensure accuracy. Encourage kids to repeat their experiments to see if they get the same results each time.

    This helps confirm their findings and teaches them the importance of consistency and reliability in science.

    Step 7: Share findings

    The final step in the scientific method is sharing findings. Encourage kids to present their results and conclusions to others.

    This could be through a report, a presentation, or even a show-and-tell session.

    Sharing findings helps kids improve their communication skills and allows them to celebrate their hard work and discoveries.

    It also inspires others to be curious and conduct their own experiments.

    Kid presenting scientific findings in a presentation

    The importance of sharing scientific results

    Sharing scientific results is a key part of the learning process. It helps kids develop communication skills and boosts their confidence.

    By explaining their experiments and findings to others, they reinforce their own understanding and inspire curiosity in their peers.

    Sharing results also allows for feedback and new ideas, fostering a collaborative spirit in scientific exploration.

    Fun ways for kids to present their findings

    1. Science fair: Participate in a school or community science fair to showcase their project.

    2. Posters: Create colorful posters with drawings, photos, and charts to explain their experiment.

    3. Presentations: Use tools like PowerPoint or Google Slides to make a digital presentation.

    4. Show-and-tell: Have a show-and-tell session at school or with family to explain their findings.

    5. Videos: Record a video explaining their experiment and results, and share it with friends and family.

    6. Science blogs: Start a simple blog where they can post their experiments and results.

    Create a little scientist with CirucuitMess kits

    By teaching your kids the scientific method through fun and engaging activities, you're setting them up for a lifetime of curiosity and learning.

    From making observations to sharing their findings, each step helps them build important skills. CircuitMess STEM kits are the perfect tool to support this journey.

    These kits provide all the materials and guidance needed to conduct exciting science experiments, develop critical thinking, and foster a love for discovery.

    Ready to turn your child into a little scientist?