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Teach Third Grade Students to Make Fair Tests and Plan Science Investigations

Students in third-grade are required to plan and carry out investigations with fair tests. This means they must learn what an independent variable, dependent variable, and control variable are. They must make a hypothesis and set up a fair test in which they try to learn more about forces. Your students will love planning science investigations!

Third Grade Balanced and Unbalanced Forces

In third grade, students learn about balanced and unbalanced forces. Students will learn about fair tests and they will plan and carry out an investigation on the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces. Students will learn about gravity and friction and that forces come in pairs. This unit includes two slide shows, hands-on activities, labs, and follow-up pages. It also includes answer keys and a one-page article on balanced and unbalanced forces. Here they will make science investigations on balanced and unbalanced forces.

Planning and Conducting a Science Investigation

Your third-grade scientists will love conducting their own fair test investigation! The only materials needed are a few tennis balls, a playground ball, a few toy cars, and blocks. Students will first learn about balanced and unbalanced forces through hands-on activities. Next, students will learn about how to plan and carry out science investigations with Fair Tests. Then students will work to plan and carry out their own science investigation with Fair Tests-identifying the independent variable, dependent variable, and control variable.

Using Phenomena in Teaching Science

In order to teach students about balanced and unbalanced forces, I will want to start with phenomena.

Balanced and Unbalanced Forces

The Crosscutting Concepts in Science

The crosscutting concept for this standard is Cause and Effect. So I will want to ask a lot of questions about Cause and Effect. What caused the stationary ball to move? What caused the moving ball to stop? What was the effect of the initial hit of the cue stick?

Students need to be taught that the independent variable is the one thing that the scientists changes. The dependent variable is what h scientist is measuring and the control variables are all the things that need to stay the same during the investigation.

Control variables help scientists conduct fair tests.In other words, you are more likely to isolate the cause of the change you observe, if you do not change too many variables.

Example of a Fair Test: Does a lever launch a cork farther if the lever is longer?

Independent Variable- Longer lever (15 cm)

Dependent Variable- Distance the cork flies in cm.

Control Variables-height off the floor, material lever is made from, item being launched, person launching

Control Variables will stay the same for all the test samples

When doing a fair test, just change one independent variable for each test.

Looking at the changes to the dependent variable will help you form a conclusion.

In this example of a fair test science investigation, the independent variable could be the type of kick the soccer player uses. Everything that stays the same, the field, the ball, and the player would be the control variables. The dependent variable might be how far the soccer ball travels.

boy with soccer ball

In this unit students will learn about Fair Tests and conduct an investigation on Balanced and Unbalanced Forces.

Fair tests unit for Third grade
Balanced-and-unbalanced forces
Teaching Fair Tests for third grade
Fair Test Slide Show
Third-grade unit on Fair Tests

This unit on Planning a Science Investigation for Balanced and Unbalanced Forces is available for download in two places:

  1. Teaching Science with Lynda on Teachers Pay Teachers
  2. teachingscience.us

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Balanced and Unbalanced Forces and science investigations

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