Marcia's Science Teaching Ideas
Marcia's Science Teaching Ideas

Teaching Experimental Design by MJ Krech
The Student Science Project by MJ Krech

The Student Science Project Teaching Packet is available here. Click here to see the Table of Contents. The Packet contains everything you need to help guide students through a Science Project based on Julia Cothron's book Science and Research, including scans of the actual project of one of my students.Includes PowerPoints on Personal Concept Map and Science Concept Map. Can be purchased as a Download or a CD. Several items from this Packet are also available below at NO CHARGE!
You are welcome to use these ideas in your classroom, within your science department, within your school district, or to distribute to any teacher who may find these lessons useful. I only ask that:
1. You cannot sell these lessons or make a profit on them in any way.
2. You cite the lessons original source, and do not white-out the copyright footer on the pdf files
3. Do not copy and paste lessons onto your website. A link to the original is to be used.
4. Do not claim these lessons as your own work.
NOTE: This disclaimer is modeled after a couple of my favorite websites: The Science Spot and Middle School Science. Thanks, teachers!
Julia Cothron's
Experimental Design

Our state requires a rigorous teaching of the experimental design method, including independent and dependent variables, research before experimenting, simple report formats, etc. We use Julia Cothron's books, which do a beautiful job of explaining the entire program. We've developed many extra worksheets and materials to teach each element within the program. Many are included in this section.

Click on either book image for more details on Cothron's books:

How to Draw a Personal Concept Map

Relates to the Student Science Project. Personal Concept Map is a "warm-up" for the Science Concept Map, which is a brainstorming activity for planning a science experiment. Click here for PowerPoint. Click here for the accompanying worksheet.

How to Draw a Science Concept Map

Relates to the Student Science Project. the Science concept Map is a brainstorming activity that helps students begin to think about science experiment topics. Click here for the PowerPoint. Click here for the accompanying worksheet.

Experimental Design Reference

Our reference packet for grades 9-12. A good reference for all aspects of experimental design. Our students use this when writing a short-form report up to writing their final science project report. Click here.

Writing Titles and Hypotheses Worksheet

Works well to practice each element separately. Click here for a good titles/hypotheses practice.

Evaluating Experimental Designs Use Cothron's Checklists contained in the above Experimental Design Reference. Teach your students to find the errors in an experimental design. Helps students write better designs.
Experimental Design Practice

Gives four brief scenarios. Write an experimental design for each. Students have to invent their own levels, trials, and constants. Click here.

Bar or Line Graph? Game Give each team colorful BAR GRAPH and LINE GRAPH signs. Read an experimental title. Teams huddle to figure out if the graph would be a line or bar graph. Team leader holds up the answer.
Experimental Design Vocabulary

A cut and paste vocabulary assignment. Cut out the definitions and past with the correct word. Much more fun than the "standard" vocab sheet. The action of cutting and pasting helps most students remember better! Click here.

Experimental Design Team Relay Games Prepare an overhead transparency with a long line down the middle. Put the same question, puzzle, or problem on each side. Teams line up on each side of the overhead. Give each team one transparency pen of a different color. The pen is passed down the line like a relay race baton. First person in each line starts at the signal and gets to write down one thing only. If you have experimental designs that need correcting, for example, each student can only make one correction. Then the pass the pen to the next person in the line and go to the end of the line. It's totally "legal" for team members to look at the other team's work. This often gets a team's weakest member past their turn with some dignity. Good game for requiring team members in line to pay attention to what is happening so they know what to do next.
Experimental Design Tables & Graphs Practice

I recommend teaching each part of the Experimental Design separately. Click here for an example of a page that covers using checklists to evaluate and properly construct tables and graphs.

Writing Conclusion Paragraphs

A worksheet that gives the graph and results sentences from some "pretend" experiments. The students are asked to write the first three conclusion sentences in paragraph form. A checklist is included. I usually do the first two in pairs. Students write the Conclusion on their own, then trade papers and use the checklist to determine how well their partner did. The other two are homework. Click here.

Writing Conclusion Paragraphs Game Read a results sentence to the teams. (I have four long-term teams set up to go at a moment's notice!) Each team writes the conclusion sentences on a white board and waits to raise their answer on teacher's request.
Experimental Design Puzzle Click here for a cut-and-paste review of the order of a Write Up. Have students cut out and paste the two Labs on separate pieces of paper. They have to carefully read each part of the puzzle to separate into the two labs.
Experimental Design Short Report Form

The short form is often used for quick labs that are teaching something other than experimental design, or for a beginning-of-the-year review of the basics of experimental design. This form is used almost exclusively in our middle schools as preparation for the longer reports at the high school level. Click here.

Experimental Design Normal Report Form

This normal-length report form is used for most labs. It requires a written procedure, which the short form doesn't. It also gives prompts for the Conclusion. You can assign only a few of these prompts for a particular lab. Click here.

Experimental Design Long Report Form

This is the longest form, not necessarily used for the largest labs or projects. Often this form is given to a special education student who needs more prompts. We've been known to shorten the requirements for these students but use this complete long form to start. I've also used this for students for a big project, if I know they have trouble writing an extensive report. Click here.


A good lab to review experimental design concepts. How many water drops does each of four different-sized coins hold? Good way to review independent variable (coin size) and dependent variable (# of water drops) at the beginning of the year. I put our short form report on the back and assign as homework early in the year. Then we learn to evaluate using Cothron's checklists in the Reference packet.


Another lab similar to the Coin Lab on the Science Teaching Ideas Page. We've used this to review the basic principles of experimental design either in the beginning of the year or halfway through the year. Also we've used this lab to teach the principles of Newton's Second Law. Click here.

ęCopyright 2016.  M. J. Krech. All rights reserved.

Created by MJKrech