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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Designing Experiments
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

The WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT? Web site engages classes in long-term projects that use the scientific method. A crucial part of this method is designing an effective experiment that really tests the hypothesis. In this lesson, students learn concepts that enable them to design and conduct sound scientific experiments. First, students critique a faulty experiment, and in doing so, become familiar with some of the criteria of a good experiment. Then, students use what they've learned to conduct experiments of their own. Finally, students communicate what they’ve learned with another class by creating a Web page with information and activities or creating a presentation for another class.

Grade Level:
Grades 6-8

Time Allotment:
5-6 class periods

Subject Matter:

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Analyze experiments to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Understand the concepts of independent, dependent, controlled, and extraneous variables; and control groups.
  • Work cooperatively to conduct a scientific experiment.
  • Organize and reflect on the information they learned by creating a lesson or informational Web page for their peers.


McRel: Science Standard and Benchmarks
Standard 12: Understands the nature of scientific inquiry StandardID=12
3. Designs and conducts a scientific investigation (e.g., formulates hypotheses, designs and executes investigations, interprets data, synthesizes evidence into explanations, proposes alternative explanations for observations, critiques explanations and procedures).
4. Knows that observations can be affected by bias (e.g., strong beliefs about what should happen in particular circumstances can prevent the detection of other results).

McRel: Science Standard and Benchmarks
Standard 11: Understands the nature of scientific knowledge StandardID=11
1. Knows that an experiment must be repeated many times and yield consistent results before the results are accepted as correct.
2. Understands the nature of scientific explanations (e.g., use of logically consistent arguments; emphasis on evidence; use of scientific principles, models, and theories; acceptance or displacement of explanations based on new scientific evidence).

This lesson was prepared by Suzanne Furlong.