Mini Display Boards for Science Experiments
Teaching children the scientific process is something that should be done at an early age and continued to be reinforced all year long. Unfortunately many times teachers wait until a science fair to teach students this process. It is then taught in isolation and students do not remember the process at all. Using these mini display boards in not only fun for students but it will help them to retain the process much more completely.
The Scientific Process
The scientific process is used by scientists to investigate a problem. They begin with a question which then formulates into a hypothesis which is tested in an investigation and conclusions are then drawn from the investigation. This is an important process to teach our young scientists as this procedure is how scientists test ideas and then share them with other scientists to replicate their work. In addition to teaching the process, it is important for students to understand that accuracy is very important in this process.
The Scientific Process
This is the idea that will be investigated. It is put into question form.
A hypothesis is a form of a prediction. The prediction is put into an If, then statement. For example: If I put vinegar over the egg, then.... (this is where the prediciton is inserted.)
This is a list of all of the materials that your investigation will use.
The procedure provides a step by step guide to replicatiing the investigation. Students need to be reminded that accuracy in these steps is critical.
The data are the observations that are collected during the process. I encourage my students to use their five senses. The data can be shared in the form of written word, drawings, photos, and more.
What happened in your investigation? This will provide information about what occurred. It is a sort of summary of the observations.
The conclusion evaluates the hypothesis based on the results. Was the hypothesis correct or incorrect and why?
one manila file folder for each student or group
two 3 1/2 x 5 index cards
markers or colored pencils to decorate the boards (optional)
materials needed for the experiment of your choice
To create the board, simply fold each side of the folder into the middle crease. This will create four individual panels. It should resemble what you would find for a large, three panel display board made of foam board.
Purpose of the Mini Science Boards
To demonstrate the scientific process to my students, we do a group investigation. My purpose is not for them to have a great scientific investigation, but to guide them through through the steps of the scientific process by creating a quality question, teaching them how to construct a hypothesis, having a conversation about how to collect data as well as how to analyze the results and write a conclusion. Once they are able to learn these skills, then they can go off on their own and develop fantastic science projects. The mini boards are just a fun way to display our information and allow each student to have a chance to create one of their own.
Pictures of our process.Click thumbnail to view full-size
The investigation that we did in our class was a simple on that involved just three days. This was a guided activity so we all participated in it together. I modeled the information and students recreated it on their own boards. Although I modeled this for my students, I did not "give" them the information. We came to a class consensus when creating our question and then each student created their own hypothesis, observations, results, and conclusions.
What will happen to an egg if it covered in vinegar for three days?
If we cover an egg with vinegar, then... This is where each student had an opportunity to individualize his or her hypothesis. We talked about what we thought would "make sense" in regards to our hypothesis. For example, I would not predict that it would sprout wings and begin to fly. That wouldn't be logical. So in this sense I guided the children to create a hypothesis that was relevant.
one uncooked egg
one plastic cup
vinegar to cover the egg
- Place an uncooked egg in a plastic cup.
- Pour vinegar over the egg in the cup.
- Record your observations.
- Each day, for three days, record your observations.
This is where the information is again individualized. We labeled our boards, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. Many students drew pictures in addition to writing out their observations. I require in fourth grade that they must have written observations but may add pictures to clarify their thinking.
Some observations from Day 2 included: "The shell is coming off." "It is soft." "It looks kind of yellow."
Again this part was based on what each student observed individually. They each wrote their own conclusion, however I reminded them that this is a sort of summary of what they observed.
I remind my students that this is where they really put on their scientist hats. They are to now think about what they originally thought would happen and decide were they correct or not. This is where they analyze their hypothesis. I guide them to start with "My hypothesis was correct or incorrect because... and then allow them to give evidence of why it was correct or incorrect. We talk a lot in my classroom about proving your thinking in every area of our learning so this was not new to them. Simply stated, how do you know? What proof do you have that it was correct or incorrect.
My students had a great time creating these boards. I typically try to do this type of display two to three times a year. With each time, I let my students do a little more independently. By the time they are ready to produce an investigation for the Science Fair, they have a much greater understanding of how to create their investigation and display board.
Scientific Process in the Classroom
Do you teach the scientific process in your classroom?
Simple Investigations to Use Mini Display Boards
Although I did not allow my students to embellish their display boards this time, I would allow them to add color or decorations the next time. My priority was for them to understand the process. Next time I will add the expectation that it is appealing to the eye as well.
My example is just one idea for a simple investigation that would provide students a sort of template to design an investigation and display board. Here are some additional ideas to get you started. Although the mini display boards are designed for mid elementary grades on up, you can still create them with younger children. You could make one as a class and students could take turns sharing their ideas and recording them.
Cheap and Easy Science Fair Projects: This hub provides four different activities that students can do for science experiments. Included are a volcano, investigating how heated air expanding, looking at how static electricity resembles magnets and exploring an egg in a bottle.
Fast and Easy Science Fair Projects: Floating Along: This is a very simple and easy to understand investigation about sinking and floating. Students would very easily recreate this activity and easily be able to display the information on a mini display board. Although this is just one experiment from Don Ship, he has a great collection of science experiments that you may want to check out.
Science Experiments with Lemons are More than Lemonade When life gives you lemons, do a science experiment! These great activities with lemons range from showing how copper can be cleaned with lemons, to making invisible ink to making a lemon rocket! Students would find these activities very fun and they would definitely hold their interest.
Fun Science Project for Young Kids: Making Crystals: This is a great activity for younger children. Children are very curious about crystals. This activity will allow students to wonder about what happens as you mix water with salt or sugar and let it sit for several days. Students will be in awe of the the results.
Store Bought Experiments
If you want to splurge a little and have some pre-made activities for your children, these science kits are great options. You can still very easily apply the scientific process to the activities that are included in these kits. It just provides all of your materials in one place. Creating the display boards are still a great way to display learning with these science kits.
Additional Resources for Experiment Ideas
Although we know the wealth of information that the internet provides us, you can find a lot of great activities and experiments in books that are designed specifically for science projects and investigations. These selections are a great starting point for your next science adventure!
Fun With Science
I hope that these mini display boards help to inspire you and your students to have fun investigating science questions as well as allowing your students to better understand the scientific process. Of course we want learning to take place in science, but it must be fun too! If you decide to try this idea out, come back and share with me how your students or your own children enjoyed it!