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Mix-n-Match: A Look at the Steps of the Scientific Method

Duration: 40 - 50 minutes

Objective: Students will be able to match the steps of the scientific process and their definitions, outlining the scientific method.

Materials: 7 pieces of poster board (cut in half)

Key Question: "Why do you think the steps of the scientific method are important?"

1. Teacher needs to create 14 large cards. Seven of the cards contain the steps of the scientific method. The other seven contain the definitions of those seven steps. 

Question: Identify the problem in the form of a question.
Gathering Information: Locate information concerning question posed.
Hypothesis: Proposed answer/explanation for question.
Predictions: Predict how the experiment will turn out.
Experiment: Perform experiment.
Gathering Data: Collect data generated by the experiment.
Conclusions: Conclude whether or not hypothesis was correct?  Were predictions true?

2. Distribute the cards to the students. Ask the students to find their match. Students without cards should assist those who do. When the students feel they have successfully made their matches look at them as a whole and discuss the results. Work together to make any modifications and discuss the reasoning. 

Cross Content: 2.2, 3.1, 3.3, 3.8, 4.3, 4.10, 5.4.
Language Arts:  3.1.13, 3.1.7, 3.1.11, 3.1.14, 3.2.7, 3.3.15, 3.3.16, 3.4.22, 3.4.7, 3.5.12.
Mathematics:  4.1.13, 4.3.9.
Science:  5.1.4, 5.1.6, 5.2.8, 5.4.6, 5.5.5, 5.9.8.

Step-by-Step: An Exploration of Scientific Method

Duration: 80 - 90 minutes

Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate the order and steps of the scientific method to predict the outcome of an experiment. 

Materials: (number of items can vary with class size)
6 heavy food items (e.g. an apple)
6 light food items (e.g. a leaf of lettuce)
6 stopwatches

Key Questions: 
"What are the seven steps of the scientific method?"
"Why is the scientific method important?"

The students will be conducting an experiment in which they drop two food items (one heavy item and one light item). 

1. Put the matched scientific method cards up on the chalk board ledge in the classroom. 

2. Break the students into groups of 4-6 students. 

3. Distribute the supplies; two food items and a stop watch to each group. 

4. Explain to the groups that they will be dropping the items and timing how long its takes the item to hit the floor and how this experiment applies to the scientific method.

5. As a class, decide which of the steps would come first in the process. 

6. Have groups independently execute only the first step. 

7. Now, determine the next step of the scientific method from the cards, and complete only that step in the experiment. 

8. Continue this for all seven steps. Students should record the information for each step.

9. Summarize the two activities and reinforce the importance of the scientific method.

Assessment: Students turn in the information they recorded during the experiment demonstrating the steps of the scientific method.

Cross Content:  3.3, 3.6, 3.12, 4.3, 4.10.
Language Arts:  3.1.7, 3.1.11, 3.1.13,3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.3, 3.3.6, 3.3.8, 3.4.25, 3.5.1, 3.5.7, 3.5.10, 3.5.12.
Mathematics:  4.1.3, 4.1.8, 4.4.4, 4.4.8, 4.12.3.
Science:  5.1.4, 5.1.8.

On the Way Through: Exploring the Digestive System

Objective: Students will be able to label the parts of the digestive system.

Digestive System poster showing:
    Mouth, teeth, tongue with papillae, salival glands
    Esophagus, stomach, intestines
    Glands that help in the digestive process

1.  Link to body/digestivesystemhtml.

Assessment: Students should be able to answer the following questions:

What are the two types of digestion?
What is chyme?
Chemical digestion occurs where?
How does the pancreas help us digest food?
What gets produced in the liver?
What do the large intestines do?
What is the role of the gall bladder?

Building the Pyramid: A Look at the Food Pyramid

Duration: 40 - 50 minutes

Objective: Students will be able to categorize the food that they eat via the food pyramid.

Storybook (about food)
Food Pyramid chart
6 Sample Daily Menus - only one reflecting a balanced diet 

Key Questions:
" Is your diet balanced?"
"Why should we eat more of certain types of foods than other types of foods?"

1. Teacher reads aloud a storybook of their choosing, with a food theme. 

2. After reading the teacher initiates a discussion about the role food plays in the students lives. Students share the types of foods they eat. The teacher starts to turn the conversation to the types of foods children should eat. 

3. The discussion should move to the food pyramid on the board (the teacher should have drawn this on the board prior to the lesson; the categories should not be labeled). Explain that everything we eat fits into this pyramid.

4. Write the categories on the board.  Help the students figure out which category goes where in the pyramid. 

5. Once that is finished, help the students brainstorm foods to fit into each category and write them on the pyramid. Upon brainstorm completion, talk about the appropriate servings for each.

6. Break the class into groups of 4-6 students. Distribute a hypothetical days' menu to each group. Only one group should get a menu that has a balanced diet. Have the groups work to figure out what categories the food on their menus fall into. Then have them determine if it is a balanced diet. Discuss the results as a whole class.

Assessment: Have the students complete a similar activity for their evening meal.

Cross Content: 3.1, 3.4, 3.11, 3.13, 3.14, 4.3, 4.10, 5.8.
Language Arts:  3.1.14, 3.1.18, 3.2.8, 3.5.11.
Mathematics:  4.1.13, 4.3.10, 4.3.11, 4.4.10, 4.6.18, 4.8.8, 4.9.14, 4.10.8.
Science:  5.1.4, 5.1.6, 5.2.11, 5.4.9, 5.5.5.

Quantity Qualifying: Data Through the Scienctific Method

Duration: 60 - 90 minutes

Objective:  Students will be able to understand the use of the scientific method by analyzing the information recorded in their food journal.

Scientific Method Poster
Student Journals
Food Pyramid Poster
Overhead Projector (optional)

Key Questions:
"What constitutes a serving of a certain food?"
"Why is it necessary for the group to agree on a standard?"

1.  Students on a weekly basis will tally their daily information according to the categories of the food pyramid. 

2.  Class needs to qualify which category of the pyramid the food falls into. 

3.  Class also needs to discuss and determine how to make the measurements/information more scientific or concrete.

Example: Daily intake
                     Potatoes                            Students will need to
                     Bread                                 determine quantity qualifiers
                     Ice cream

4.  Teacher needs to engage the students in a conversation about the food they ate. If they had a potato, what kind of potato, what did they put on the potato, etc. 

5.  Upon completion, the class will chart the amount of servings they consumed in each category. 

6.  Teacher now lists the steps of the scientific method and have the class correlate the procedure/activity to the scientific method.

7.  Create a circle graph (pie chart) based on the weekly tally information for each student and as a class. 

8.  Have students compare their personal circle graph to the class average circle graph.

Assessment:  Homework assignment - Students will determine the servings of their evening meals utilizing the qualifiers the class determined.

Cross Content:  3.1, 3.3, 3.10, 3.11, 3.12, 3.13.
Language Arts:  3.2.3, 3.2.5, 3.2.6, 3.2.7, 3.3.2, 3.3.4, 3.3.6, 3.3.7.
Mathematics:  4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.1.3, .4.1.4, 4.1.5, 4.1.7, 4.1.8, 4.1.9, 4.3.2, 4.3.4, 4.3.6, 4.3.7, 4.6.5, 4.10.2, 4.10.3, 4.10.4, 4.10.5, 4.10.7.
Science:  5.2.1, 5.2.2, 5.2.4, 5.2.5, 5.5.1, 5.5.3, 5.5.4.

Note to Teachers: This is a fun hereditary lesson which can help your students understand personal traits and basic genetics, which influences their taste buds. 

Note to Teachers:Discover Magazine, July Issue, "Tourist in a Taste Lab" is an article which aids a teacher in setting the foundation to introduce the concept "Super Taster." This article could be used as a Read-Aloud or as a Jigsaw activity.(cooperative learning)

Super Tasters: Examining Our Taste Buds

Duration: 120 minutes (over three days)

Objective: Students will be able to conduct an experiment and compare their data to a similiar experiment currently under way at Yale University and be able to categorize themselves as a Super-taster, a medium-taster, or a non-taster.
NOTE: The "taste buds"  that the students will be counting are actually the fungiform papillae.  The determination of taster status is done by matching the counted number of papillae.  This method has been modeled after the research of Dr. Linda Bartoshuk. 

Magnifying lenses
Wax paper cut into 3 inch squares
Blue food coloring
Small disposable cups
Reinforcing labels (for 3 ring binder paper)
Salt solutions (of varied concentrations)
Sugar solutions (of varied concentrations)
Lemon juice solutions (of varied concentrations)
Quinine solutions (of varied concentrations)
Student Worksheets

Key Questions:
"What percentage of your class are super tasters, medium tasters, or non tasters?"
"How well does this match to the North American  research percentage of 25% being sensitive to PTC (super tasters), 50% medium tasters, and 25% not sensitive to PTC (non tasters). 

Below are visual examples of super taster, medium taster, and non-taster:

Part One
1.  Make students predict which type of taster they think they are based on the introduction lesson and previous materials discussed in class.

2.  Have all participants wash their hands.

3.  Have students swish a little water around in their mouths to rinse their mouths.

4.  Distribute materials to the groups of 3 - 5 students.

5.  Have students place a small amount of food coloring in their cup.  Put a sterile end of the Q-tip in the food coloring and use it to swab the food coloring over another student's tongue.

6.  Quickly place a reinforcing label on the center of the tip of the tongue.

7.  Blot the tongue with the waxy side of the wax paper.  NOTE:  It may be necessary to blot several times so that the food coloring is not too "bloby" and will be easy for the students to count.  AND, make sure to keep plenty of towels or napkins around in case of spills.

8.  Each child must log their results on a data table.  They will be accountable to report the amount of taste buds counted on their tongue, gender, age, taster category, and in what state they live.  NOTE: Super-tasters can have as many as 50; medium-tasters, 15 to 30; non-tasters, as few as 10.

Example of Data Collection
Participant #
# of Taste Buds
State (you live in)
Non taster
New York
Medium Taster
New Jersey
Medium Taster
New Jersey
Super Taster
New Jersey

9.  Once you have collected your data per class, sort the information by male/female and the type of taster category they fall into.  Example listed below:
Super Taster
Medium Taster
Non Taster

10.  Create averages or percentages for the class data.  Each class should analyze data based on gender and taste categories and depict the results in graph form.

Note to Teachers:This link focuses on "taste" and has many extension activities that will support "Super taster" lessons.(please check this site!)

Part Two
NOTE: Have solutions prepared ahead of time so it will be a mystery to the students as to what solution is in which cup. Solutions: 20 parts water: 1 part salt; 15 parts water: 1 part salt; 10 parts water:1 part salt 20 parts water: 1 part sugar; 15 parts water: 1 part sugar; 10 parts water: 1 part sugar 20 parts water: 1 part lemon juice; etc.

11. Have all participants wash their hands.

12.  Have students swish a little water around in their mouths to rinse their mouths.

13.  Distribute materials to the groups of 3 - 5 students.

14.  Have students place a sterile end of the Q-tip in cup A1 and swab the solution over another student's tongue.  Rate how salty the solution tasted on a scale from 0 - 100.  Record.
NOTE: There is no hard-fast rule about likes and dislikes because food preferences are sometimes learned, but generally, supertasters will feel that all solutions will have an intense flavor, therefore rate them with a very high number, Medium tasters will rate solutions with lower numbers, and Non tasters will rate solutions with very low numbers.

Sample Data: Depicts that this student overall would be rated as a medium-taster.
Student #9

15.  Swish mouth with water.  Have students place a sterile end of the Q-tip in cup A2 and swab the solution over another student's tongue.  Rate how salty the solution tasted on a scale from 0 - 100.  Record.

16.  Have students repeat this process until all solutions have been tested.

17.  Class compare results to the research results.

Assessment: The teacher will review students recorded data.

Cross Content: 3.1, 3.8, 3.12, 4.3, 4.10
Language Arts: 3.1.7, 3.2.7, 3.4.25, 3.5.8
Math: 4.1.3, 4.1.8, 4.4.3, 4.6.5, 4.11.2, 4.12.5, 4.12.9, 4.12.11, 4.13.8, 
Science: 5.2.6, 5.2.8, 5.2.9, 5.3.1, 5.3.3, 5.5.4
Social Studies: 6.1.9

This project has been developed by teachers from Public Schools No. 8 and 18 in Paterson, New Jersey in conjunction with CIESE at Stevens Institute of Technology, Bank Street College, and Saint Peter's College with support through an Eisenhower Professional Development Program that is administered by the New Jersey State Department of Education.

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