The scientific method for kids helps kids explore how things work in the world. The scientific method steps will encourage your kid to find the answer to their favorite question, “why?”
Children are naturally curious, and often love nothing more than exploring the world around them. Often we as parents and teachers need to answer the question “why” a million times a day. Why do we need to protect our skin from the sun? Why does the apple turn brown if we leave it out? They want to know the reason behind everything!
This is why introducing them to the scientific method for kids is such a good idea.
A simple process that makes learning fun and engaging, the method teaches more than just science. Using the free printable worksheet at the end of this page, you and your young ones can work together to use the scientific method for improving creative and critical thinking, communication, and even literacy skills.
What is the Scientific Method for Kids?
In the most basic sense, the scientific method is a tried-and-tested formula that scientists can use to learn more about the world around us and come up with answers to those big questions about the universe by following a simple, six-step process.
This generally involves defining a question (what the scientist wants to learn), doing some initial research, creating a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis by experimenting, analyzing the results of those experiments, and forming a conclusion.
It’s the same process used by everyone from top-rank professional scientists working in a lab to young children carrying out their first science activities in the classroom though obviously, presenting the scientific method for kids means tailoring it in such a way that it really helps them to enjoy science and engage in the learning process.
Below, we’ll break down the six-step scientific method and how best to use our free printable to teach your young scientists in a fun and creative way.
6 Steps of the Scientific Method for Kids
This step is all about establishing what your young ones are going to try and find out.
Maybe it’s all about learning which items float and which sink, about why a big stack of building blocks topples to the ground, what happens if you submerge an egg in raw vinegar, or what happens to those classroom plants if they don’t get any water.
Here, you can encourage kids to look around and get curious about their environment.
What is it they want to know about, and how can they channel this wonderful sense of wonder into a question that can be answered with the scientific method.
Once they’ve come up with the question, the next phase is to do their research.
In a classroom environment, this is mostly done in the form of observation and thinking about their five senses:
- What do they see?
- What do they hear?
- What do they taste?
- What do they smell?
- What do they feel?
Obviously, not all senses will be appropriate for all questions, but the visual ones will usually make sense regardless of the questions.
If you’re working together on “what happens when a plant doesn’t get water?” For example, you can ask them to think about what they notice about the classroom plants.
If it’s the floating and sinking experiment, how do certain objects feel compared to others? Heavier or lighter?
Asking open-ended questions (“what do you notice about the soil?”) can spark their thinking and get them enthused about observing their environment.
Next, it’s time to use those observations to form a hypothesis, in other words, “what do you think will happen?”
- What do you think will happen the heavier items are placed in the water?
- What do you think will happen if a plant doesn’t get any water?
- Why do you think the stack of building blocks fell over?
This step moves them from observing into thinking. If they’re too young to use the word “hypothesis” with, you can ask them to simply write an “I think” statement (“I think the heavier items will sink” etc.)
Now that we’ve established a hypothesis, kids can use the scientific method to test it out by creating an experiment.
In the free printable download below, you’ll see that there’s space for them to note exactly how their experiment was formed – what materials they used, what procedure they followed and, of course, what the results were.
Although you can obviously guide them in this and steer them in the right direction, your young ones will likely feel more involved and engaged if they feel they came up with the experiment themselves, so you can ask questions like:
“How can we test what will happen to the plant?
“How can we prove if we’re right about the heavy items sinking?”
This is generally the most fun part of the scientific method and really gives them an opportunity to get hands-on in their learning.
The results are in. The heavy items sank. The plant drooped and died. The building block tower eventually toppled over when too many blocks were added to it. Now’s the time to record those results.
Again, our free guide gives kids plenty of space to jot down their findings and this can be a great way to practice their writing and literacy skills, though having a discussion can help cement their learning while drawing, taking pictures, or even recording videos can help with their creativity.
For most simple experiments, their hypothesis is likely to be correct. If it isn’t, they simply start over, using what they’ve observed from this experiment to form a new one and testing that out.
Finally, all that’s left to do is come up with a conclusion:
“I thought the heavier items would sink and they did, so I proved that the heavier an item, the more likely it is to sink”
There’s room on the PDF for them to write their conclusion, but it doesn’t have to be limited to just this printable. Encourage them to share their results with others. If several kids are running several experiments, a discussion about each others’ findings can help to foster a sense of excitement about learning science.
History of the Scientific Method
An integral part of modern-day science, the scientific method actually dates back several centuries, with notable names like Sir Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, and the French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher René Descartes all playing a role in its development.
Yet while those prominent figures may have received a lot of the credit for helping to mold the method as we know it today, none of them can claim to be its true inventor.
That honor is largely said to be held by the Greek philosopher Aristotle.
These days, prominent scientists continue to debate the most ways to use this approach, though the steps we’ve outlined above are generally regarded as the best way to use the scientific method for kids.
Free Printable Scientific Method Worksheet for Kids
Ready to try out the scientific method for kids with your young ones?
I’ve created a free printable download that makes the whole method fun to learn for the kids. The worksheets include:
to children and includes not only room to record an experiment, but fun questions and activities that help them learn more about the method itself.
- List of the steps in the scientific method that you can laminate and hung up on the wall. They can refer to it every time they do a science experiment.
- A worksheet to practice the “observation” step, encouraging your child to use his or her 5 senses.
- A worksheet to take your child through an entire science experiment, with boxes to fill out each step.
- A cut and paste worksheet where they need to arrange the scientific method steps in the right order.
- A question and answer worksheet to test their understanding about the scientific method for kids.
Get it for free by filling out the form below.
The scientific method is largely considered to be an essential element of modern science and has been used to teach us much about what we know about our observable universe.
Not that this means it has to be used only by professional scientists in fancy laboratories.
It can also be used as a way to make learning about science fun as well as promoting both creative and cognitive thinking, improving literacy skills, and more, ultimately make it an invaluable addition to your teaching repertoire. Using the steps taught in the scientific method for kids, your little budding scientists will feel confident that they have made the correct conclusions from their experiments.