At the beginning of the school year I like to introduce my 8th graders to think like a scientist. I give students an Ob-Scertainer (http://www.flinnsci.com/store/Scripts... ). It's a great way to discuss what observations, predictions, hypotheses and results are. It also leads to a good discussion of the significance of results. I want to thank the teachers that volunteered to be my "students" for this video.
This is a good discrepit event to start a conversation on heat energy. Ice cubes are placed on blocks made of different materials (although students aren't aware of that). One ice cube melts at a much faster rate than the other. The block that melted the ice cube faster feels colder than the other. Students are quick to predict/assume that the warmer block would have melted the ice cube faster. This leads to a critical thinking discussion of how heat energy flows and the ability of materials to conduct heat better or worse than others.
It’s far from the beginning of the school year but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach students how science works. The way I ease my students to this somewhat complex concept is to expose them to the scientific method concept box. Students first make observations with their eyes about the box. After they share what they actually see (colors, words, numbers, and most importantly one side is covered up), they should come up with a question that they are wondering about. The question is “what does the covered side look like?” Students then generate hypotheses about the numbers, colors and words that make up that covered side. They then make more observations and see if there are any patterns in the data. They adjust their hypotheses as they continue to make observations. They finally get to uncover the side in question and compare the results to their hypotheses. For some students the results are expected and match their hypotheses. For others the results do not match their hypotheses. It’s a really good lead to a discussion that what is important in science is data that can lead to a conclusion regardless if the hypothesis is supported or not. In fact it is the unexpected results that lead to new scientific questions and discoveries that weren’t thought possible before. If you want the template for the boxes, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you.