Submitted by: Charlie Conway

This is a lesson plan designed to be incorporated into a elementary or middle school general science class. Using BrainPOP and its resources, students will be introduced (or further exposed) to the steps necessary to undertake scientific experimentation leading (perhaps) to a Science Fair project. The Scientific Method is a core structure in learning about scientific inquiry, and although there are many variations of this set of procedures, they all usually have similar components. This lesson should take 45-60 minutes, with opportunities for extending the lesson further.

Students will:

  1. Students will use BrainPOP features to build their understandings of the Scientific Method.
  2. Students will learn how to identify and write effective hypotheses.
  3. Students will use game play to write an appropriate hypothesis for an experiment.
  4. Students will identify and utilize the tools necessary to design a scientific investigation.


  • Laptops/Computers
  • Interactive White Board
  • Pencil/Paper
  • Class set of photocopies of the Scientific Method Flow Chart
  • BrainPOP accounts (optional)


Method Variable Procedure Hypothesis Testable


Prepare student BrainPOP accounts. Photocopy the BrainPOP Jr. Scientific Method Movie instead.

These procedures may be modified according to the needs/resources of each teacher & class. For example, you may decide to do the quiz with pencil/paper, or do the quiz as a class.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask the students how scientists answer questions and solve problems. Take a few minutes to explore students' prior knowledge with a short discussion.
  2. Tell the class that you're going to watch a BrainPOP movie about answering a scientific question about plant growth.
  3. Show the BrainPOP movie on the Scientific Method two times. The first time, students should just watch and listen. The second time they should take notes. Pause the movie at critical STOP points.
  4. Students should log on to their individual student accounts and take the Scientific Method Quiz to give the teacher some immediate feedback. (This can also be done as a pre-assessment, or at the very end of the lesson). NOTE: If you choose to, you can give a pencil/paper quiz also; students who work best with electronic media can be given accommodations). If you don't have access to individual student logins via MyBrainPOP (a school subscription), students can take the Review Quiz or paper quiz instead.
  5. Discuss the main points from the movie: a. Write the definition of the scientific method: the procedure scientists use to help explain why things happen. b. Make a list on the board of the steps mentioned as part of the scientific method: problem, fact finding, observation, inference, hypothesis, experiment, conclusions. c. Tell students that there are various versions of the scientific method that they may see, but they are all basically the same.
  6. Hand out the Scientific Method Flow Chart. Introduce the "If...then...because..." format for writing hypotheses. Give the students 10 minutes to complete the sheet with their group. They may use their notes from the movie to help them, and/or work collaboratively with other students.
  7. Discuss some of the student responses in class. Focus on the hypotheses, and explain that a good hypothesis is a testable explanation of the problem. For example, a good hypothesis to the third problem would be, "If I move farther away from the microwave oven, then the cell phone signal will improve because I am further away from the source of interference." Show how this is a TESTABLE hypothesis that can lead to a scientific experiment.
  8. Introduce the students to the Pavlov’s Dog game in GameUP. Allow time for the kids to explore the game without telling them why they are playing it.
  9. After 10-15 minutes, have the students take a break from playing, and have a short discussion about the game. Ask if anyone was able to complete the task successfully, and have them share how they got the "diploma." If time allows, show the students how to complete the task so that they all understand that the dog has been conditioned to respond to a stimulus (noise before food has been introduced).
  10. Have the students write a hypothesis that Pavlov may have written before he started his experiment. Students can either do this with pencil/paper, or the teacher may create a BrainPOP quiz and have students submit their hypothesis electronically. This may be used as a part of the assessment.
  11. Choose some sample responses from the students, highlighting the hypotheses that are TESTABLE, and not just guesses or predictions.

If this lesson is an introduction to allowing students to plan and carry out their own experiments, then all that follows is naturally an extension to the lesson.

Other, shorter extensions are easy to develop as well.

Extension Activities:

You can have the students create a concept map of the Scientific Method to check to see if they include all of the necessary parts of the method. Another idea is to have students write a few hypotheses, and ask students to evaluate them to decide if they are testable or not. Or, have students try the experiment introduced in the movie - get some plants and see if Tim & Moby's conclusions are accurate!