The Scientific Process of Investigation

Updated on 15 May 2024


Science is the study of the world using reason. The scientific investigation method is the way we apply reason and logic to gain knowledge. It is a tool and like most tools, it has both strengths and weaknesses. Since we live in a society dominated by science, it is important for us to understand the methods, processes, possibilities and limits of science. Children who have a clear understanding of the scientific process gain a clearer understanding of scientific principles and properties.


  • Students will identify the components in the scientific investigation model
  • Students will understand the key vocabulary terms related to scientific inquiry
  • Students will make real-world connections to science investigations

Content Areas

reading science writing


Grade 2 - Grade 4


Build Framework for Learning

Write the following steps of the scientific investigation model on the board or chart paper:

1. Research a topic. Explore to obtain relevant facts about the topic.
2. Ask questions and identify the one you want to answer.
3. Guess. Make a prediction or hypothesis.
4. Gather the supplies you need.
5. Design an experiment to test your experiment.
6. Review the results.
7. Draw a conclusion.

Have students apply the seven steps of the scientific investigation model to different questions. Example questions:

Can a magnet make another object magnetic?
Does a plant need water to grow?
What happens to light rays as they move through water?
Where does water go when it dries up?

Discuss how the scientific investigation process can help us conduct experiments and answer questions like these. Talk about the various kinds of experiments that students could conduct for each question.

Select chapter 3 from the Step-By-Step Experiments with Life Cycles book. Read the chapter to the students stopping at various intervals to ask questions.

Read page 8 — What’s Best for the Bean? Ask students to share additional questions that they might want to explore within this topic.

Read page 9 — Make a Prediction Discuss the predictions and ask students to share predictions for the
additional questions you may have generated.

Read page 10 — Time to Experiment Talk about how the experiment might prove or disprove the predictions you’ve made.

Read page 11 — Review the Results and What is Your Conclusion? Offer sample results and ask students to draw conclusions from them. For example, if the bean plant in cup #1 grew two inches and the bean plant in cup #2 wilted, what conclusion can we draw about the way sunlight affects
plant growth?

Hands-on Experimentation

Ask students to either work independently or with a partner to select and read the book that interests them the most from the Step-By-Step Experiments series. Provide each student with the Scientific Investigation Web handout to take notes as they work. Provide time for small groups of students to select an experiment from the book to conduct. Each experiment includes a handy list of supplies. Ask students to copy the list of necessary supplies to the Scientific Investigation Web handout. (Make sure the supplies are available for at least two or three experiments in each book.) After students have had an opportunity to conduct their experiment several times, they can look at the results and form a conclusion. The conclusion should answer the question. (Note: Some experiments may require several days to complete, so if time is limited you may want to restrict the experiments that students can conduct within the time frame you’ve allotted.)

Forming the Best Questions

It is important for students to think about how to ask questions that can be explored with the scientific investigation method. Once students have identified a good question, they are ready to form a hypothesis and test their predictions. Discuss various kinds of questions with students and talk about which ones would make good questions to explore using the scientific investigation model.

Yes/No Questions:

Did you eat breakfast today?
Did you complete all of your spelling homework this week?
Did you get an A on your spelling test?

Multiple Choice Questions:

Do you like pizza, burgers, or steak the best?
Are you better at baseball, basketball, or swimming?
Do you walk to school, ride the bus, or get a ride?

Extended Response Questions:

How popular is skateboarding among students in your class?
What is the climate like in your state?
How much faster is an airplane than a car?

Display all of the books in the Step-By-Step Experiments series where students can see the covers. Ask them to think about a topic that interests them. Provide each student with the Forming Questions handout. Give students time to complete the handout with a question they would like to explore about one of the Step-By-Step Experiments topics.

Science Investigations Crossword Puzzle

Understanding vocabulary is critical when teaching the scientific investigation model. Provide each student with a copy of the Science Investigations Crossword Puzzle handout. Allow time for them to work independently or in small groups to complete the puzzle and reinforce key terms and concepts.

Related Products

Title   ATOS Format Qty
Step-by-Step Experiments with Electricity
Step-by-Step Experiments with Insects
Step-by-Step Experiments with Life Cycles
Step-by-Step Experiments with Light and Vision
Step-by-Step Experiments with Magnets
Step-by-Step Experiments with Matter
Step-by-Step Experiments with Plants
Step-by-Step Experiments with Simple Machines
Step-by-Step Experiments with Soils
Step-by-Step Experiments with Sound
Step-by-Step Experiments with Taste and Digestion
Step-by-Step Experiments with the Water Cycle

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