K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • recognize that there is a basic process to solving problems.
  • learn the five steps to a scientific experiment.
  • learn that observation is essential in using the scientific process.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 hour


  • Pictures or photos from magazines backed on construction paper and laminated and cut into puzzle pieces
  • notebooks


Activity 1

  1. Tell students: “Science is like a puzzle. There is always a problem to solve. Usually the problem is broken down into pieces, much like a puzzle, to help understand and solve the problem. However, many science problems remain unsolved or continue to be searched for better solutions. New discoveries are happening as we speak, and questions are being asked to understand the world around us better.”
  2. Continue: “I’m going to hand out several puzzles for you and partners to put together. This is much like a science experiment, because you have a question or a problem to solve. What would that be? (What picture do the puzzle pieces make?)”
  3. Hand out puzzles (let 3-4 children work together to put them together at their desks).
    • Have the children predict what their picture puzzles may be. Tell them that this is an important part of every experiment.
    • Put the puzzle pieces together. Have students raise their hands when their group is finished.
    • Ask: What did you do to find out what the picture was? (answer: worked together to put pieces together, used eyes to match pieces, hands to move pieces) Tell them this is the procedure for the experiment.
    • Ask: Was your prediction correct? What did you learn from this experiment?

    Possible answers: Identifies picture, took team work to put pieces together, took a great deal of concentration and observation to put puzzle together.

  4. Tell students that all experiments require a great deal of concentration, team work and observation. Every experiment that they will do in science will require all three of these techniques. You have just completed your first experiment. Every experiment consists of five steps known as the scientific process:
    • Question or Problem
    • Prediction
    • Procedure
    • Gathering of information or Data
    • Conclusion (what you learn)
  5. Have students clip puzzles together and return to you.

Activity 2

  1. Now have students test their observation skills. Have students stand up.
  2. Have students pick a partner and face each other for 15 seconds. Tell them to observe each other.
  3. Now have them stand back to back and change something about their appearance. (examples: change a ring to another finger, roll up a sleeve, push down a sock, etc.)
  4. Call time and have students face each other. Each partner guesses what the other has changed.
  5. Have the students do this two or three times.
  6. Students sit back down, open their notebooks and answer these questions (have on overhead or board).
    • What did you want to find out?
    • What changes were made by your partner?
    • What did you do to discover your partner’s changes?
  7. Discuss and then have students write down the five steps of an experiment.
  8. Have students write a brief summary under each step and discuss.
  9. Ask students what they learned from both experiments. Possible answers: must use eyes to solve problems, must observe carefully, we’re always looking for answers to our questions.
  10. End with a final conclusion that scientists are problem solvers and observers of the world around them.


  • Question and answer discussions throughout lesson.
  • Observe students following scientific process.
  • Orally or on an activity sheet, review the five steps of the scientific process (problem, prediction, procedures, data, conclusion) from the partner game to check for understanding.
    1. Problem: Ask students what we wanted to know about about our partners.
    2. Prediction: Accept answers related to physical changes.
    3. Procedure: Review process used, i.e. face partner, 15 seconds. Turn back to back. Change something about yourself…etc.
    4. Data: Record changes partners made.
    5. Conclusion: Accept reasonable answers. Example: Careful observation is needed to identify changes.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 6

  • Goal 1: The learner will design and conduct investigations to demonstrate an understanding of scientific inquiry.
    • Objective 1.01: Identify and create questions and hypotheses that can be answered through scientific investigations.
    • Objective 1.05: Analyze evidence to:
      • Explain observations.
      • Make inferences and predictions.
      • Develop the relationship between evidence and explanation.