A Note about Notebooks and the Scientific Method
Our science mom, Staci, shows us how to use a science notebook to help our kids learn all about the scientific method!
I started doing Science Saturdays with my son the spring before his fifth birthday. We tried to think of something fun and interesting to do every weekend. From the very beginning it was important to me that we followed the scientific method and kept a lab notebook. At the time, my son was just beginning to learn to write, he often asked how to spell things and spent a lot of time drawing pictures of his observations and dictating to me his conclusions. He has graduated to writing his own hypothesis, adding sentences to his observations and writing his own conclusions. Now that my almost 3 year old has joined our science fun, we spend a lot of time drawing pictures of our set-ups and observations again. If you are introducing your children to science, don’t be afraid to encourage the use of a lab notebook, no matter their ages. They may surprise you with their observations and attention to detail!
Teaching the scientific method can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are teaching young children. The good news is that you are probably already following the process without even thinking about it. Adding the vocabulary of the scientific method during your experiments can encourage critical thinking and reasoning skills.
Observation: about what can you use your senses to ask a question.
Question: the why, what, or how you want to know about what you are interested.
Hypothesis: a guess about why or how something happens.
Prediction: how can you test your hypothesis and what will happen if…
Testing: conduct your experiment. Sometimes this will lead to more questions and more testing.
Conclusions: what have you learned from your testing.
Communicate: tell others what you have discovered so they can learn more.
Not every step of the scientific method needs to be recorded in your notebook, but we are sure to include a few sections. Specifically, we write a question about our experiment to highlight the purpose of the experiment. Next we make and write a hypothesis about our experiment. We take careful notes and draw figures of our observations. And finally, we write a conclusion about what we have learned from our data. Sometimes we also include questions that we thought about while learning the answers to other questions. We call that the Circle of Science!
Does your family consider the scientific method when you are doing at home experiments? My son’s lab notebook is a childhood memento that I treasure. I can’t wait to keep filling it’s pages with our science fun and I hope your family can find just as much enjoyment in your own lab notebooks as we do.