Writing and following directions!

Following our last class, we covered the scientific method in a lot more detail. We covered the steps in the scientific method and re-emphasized the importance of using scientific language. We used this theme to discover in today’s lesson how important it is to use scientific language, especially while writing procedures.

The ability to create and follow clear, ordered plans is useful in many aspects of life. However, being able to provide a detailed, precise plan that others can follow can be challenging. A plan that contains all the information needed to replicate an experiment includes three parts: a list of materials needed, a set of instructions on how to use these materials, and descriptions of the intermediate results that are expected.

In today’s activity, students got the chance to practice giving precise instructions. Each student received a bag containing two identical sets of construction blocks.  Using one set of the colorful construction blocks, students were given 10 minutes to build a creation of their choosing and write a set of instructions detailing each step of the building process. The purpose of this was for each student to write down instructions that are detailed enough so that others could replicate their models. Once the students were done building and writing, they passed their instructions and blocks on to classmates to build by following the directions. The young scientists realized that detailed and precise instructions led to more accurate results. We concluded this activity by sharing what we really liked about our partners’ directions and what frustrations we faced while writing and reading directions.

As a class we talked about ways students could improve their directions to make it easier for another person to follow.  Using precise locations, like centered or on the left, and specific shapes, colors and sizes to identify pieces were some of the ideas that students came up with to help improve their directions.


As a follow up to this lesson:

1. Reflect what you learned about the scientific method.

2. Describe how you used ONE part of the scientific method with your design project today? 



Questions of the day:

Q1: What should we do if there is no soap? Could we use hand sanitizer? 

A: Yes, if used correctly and not on heavily soiled or greasy hands. Using hand sanitizer is useful  if you are planning on putting your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth (how pathogens would enter your body). You should still depend on soap and water, however. It is the best and safest way of cleaning your hands. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)  recommends washing hands OVER hand sanitizer. Furthermore, only sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol is effective.

Q2: Who discovered bacteria?

A: Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, from the Netherlands, is known as the father of microbiology. He called these single-celled organisms “animalcules”. He never had proper training as a scientist, but had amazing observation skills and was super curious. In 1671, he built a simple microscope to help him with his textile work and used the microscope to look at microorganisms in water and body samples, such as skin, blood and hair. 

Q3: Why are science experiments important? Isn’t listening to a science teacher enough?

A: What we now know as science class is an opportunity for us to learn about previous experiments that have been done by other curious observers (or scientists). The most important lesson, however, is not what has already BEEN done, but what still needs TO BE done. The only way new discoveries can be done in science is to learn about previous questions that have been asked/answered through experiments – that’s why you need to listen to your science teacher. Aside from listening to your teacher, it’s important to start questioning the world around you (which you are very excellent at doing!!), and to try to answer your own questions through research and experimentation. You might discover answers that your teacher might not even know yet! 


  • avatar

    In science class we wrote directions on how to make peanut butter sandwiches,I learnt that you should use specific scientific language when writing directions was very important so mistakes are not made.

  • avatar

    I think that its a great idea that kids are learning scientific language at such a young age as it will become useful in their future.

  • avatar
    Jackie Wright (Anthony's mom) / Reply

    I imagine it would be hard to write detailed instructions so other people can repeat your results. For example, if you’re making a peanut butter sandwich you might skip steps in writing the directions because it’s something you just “do.” When approaching a problem, you’ll need to slow down and think about it scientifically–what’s precise, what comes first, what’s next, etc. I bet that’s why they include picture diagrams in Lego sets. Can you imagine trying to build a Lego creation with just words? Phew!

    • avatar
      Margaret Ptak / Reply

      Yes! Exactly! Some “habits” we pick up become so automatic that it is difficult to remember to record them for others to replicate. This can be a problem for some scientists, so it’s not safe to assume. Once we develop a habit of recording EVERYTHING we are doing in an experiment or in our research, exactly how we do it, the project becomes easier to replicate for others (and even ourselves – sometimes we might need to recreate something after some time has passed and it might be difficult for us to remember what we did “automatically” back then). However, using words can sometimes create a barrier depending on clearly someone is expressing themselves AND on which language they use! I think that why LEGO picture diagrams and IKEA’s furniture (LEGO for adults?!) are easy to assemble by following the pictures!
      Great observation!

  • avatar

    We had to write out all of the steps detailed about how to make a peanut butter sandwich step by step in science class.

  • avatar
    Dylan / Reply

    that class was really fun.Also making interesting things with the kinex was exciting.

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