Return to the Writing About Science Index
Science Observation and Writing Exercise
There is a lot of concern about students not being able to write competently in middle school and indeed even upon graduation from high school. They often cannot write up lab reports or compose descriptive paragraphs. In some cases they cannot write full sentences. This simple exercise goes right back to the root of basic writing abilities and combines them with scientific observation – another important skill many students lack.
In this exercise students will be asked to observe and describe a basic object in simple written sentences. Because we are combining ELA skills with science skills, choose an object that will bridge this exercise with your science units.
Age group: Any age, including adults.
Make scientific observations.
Write complete sentences about them.
Learn about the object being described.
Learn the difference between observation and assumptions.
Introduce a new science unit.
Grow more confident writing and journaling.
1) Describe the difference between observation and assumptions and how important it is in scientific research to know the difference. Make sure they understand that the observations must be full sentences.
2) Begin with an example object that you describe to them. For example, show them an egg. This egg is oval. This egg is white. This egg is smooth. This egg was laid by a bird. This egg fits in the palm of my hand.
3) Ask them which of those sentences was not an observation, but was an assumption.
4) Then show them a new object. Have enough for them to be able to look and handle the object between perhaps 5 students.
5) Instructs them to each to handle and look closely at the object doe 10 seconds and then set it down between them and start writing.
6) Give them 10 minutes to write as many sentences as they can about the object.
7) Afterward have several students read their sentences aloud until you exhaust any new observations.
8) Point out any observations that are assumptions or incomplete sentences.
9) Repeat the exercise with a new object.
10) Do this short exercise once a week all year using different and interesting objects that relate to science units.
11)Take the kids outside and do observations of streams for wetland studies, squirrel activity when studying mammals, trees, grass and wildflowers for units on plants, etc.
Citing This Reference
CITING RESEARCH REFERENCES
When you research information you must cite the reference. Citing for websites is different from citing from books, magazines and periodicals. The style of citing shown here is from the MLA Style Citations (Modern Language Association).
When citing a WEBSITE the general format is as follows.
Author Last Name, First Name(s). "Title: Subtitle of Part of Web Page, if appropriate." Title: Subtitle: Section of Page if appropriate. Sponsoring/Publishing Agency, If Given. Additional significant descriptive information. Date of Electronic Publication or other Date, such as Last Updated. Day Month Year of access <URL>.
All text on Exploring Nature was written by author, Sheri Amsel
Here is an example of citing this page:
Amsel, Sheri. “Writing About Science.” Science Observation and Writing Exercise. Exploring Nature Educational Resource. © 2005 - 2014. November 26, 2014. <http://exploringnature.org/db/detail.php?dbID=36&detID=2403>