Developing Tests to Compare and Contrast

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SWBAT develop tests in order to gather evidence using their 5 senses.

Big Idea

Having students compare and contrast items they are familiar with pushes them to dig more deeply into designing tests to describe evidence that is not so obvious.


10 minutes

To begin the lesson, I will simply display a green apple and a green apple Jolly Rancher.  I will then ask the students "What might a scientist wonder about these two items?"  This is how I begin guiding the students in creating questions that can be tested. 

When partners are finished talking with each other, they will give me a thumbs up, while looking silently at me. This is a wonderful teaching strategy.  As the students begin to quiet down with the signal, other partnerships become aware that it is time to wrap it up.

I then will ask the students to share out with the entire group what they thought scientists might ask about these objects. Obviously I will guide this conversation and list responses on the board.  Then, we will look to find patterns, or commonalities, in the responses. 



Mini Lesson

10 minutes

During this part of the lesson, I will show the students a Compare and Contrast Template that they can use to track their testing and evidence. I will also show them a venn diagram entitled APPLE VS JOLLY RANCHER, which will be used to communicate their evidence and final claims. For both of these documents, download them first for proper formatting. 

For this section of the lesson, I will refer to one of the questions on the board and ask student what test they might design to answer the question.  I will remind them to think of their 5 senses and remember what we learned in the previous lesson, Our Senses Will Lead the Way

Next, I will model their thinking using the compare and contrast document.  We can then use the venn diagram to enter any similarities and differences. 

Active Engagement

20 minutes

Following the mini lesson, I will give partnerships, that I have already organized, a small Granny Smith Apple, 2 green Jolly Ranchers, the graphic organizers, and a tray. I will have extra organizers and a knife, in case a team comes up with tasting the items and I need to cut the apple. However, I will not suggest this.  

I will prompt the students to begin their own testing to gather evidence to answer how these items are similar and different. 

As the teams work, I will circulate and guide the testing when necessary, and push students to think creatively about their testing and word choice for their evidence logging. 

In this video, my students are trying to compare the color of the apple and the candy, which are very similar.

In this next clip, I was so thankful to catch a student that came up with an investigation that was unique from the rest of the groups.  Following the videoing, I asked him to take the mic and explain to the class what his investigation idea was and why he thought it would help.

Sharing and Revision

15 minutes

To help students learn from each other, I will stop the investigations about 10 minutes prior to the end of our session.  I will ask teams to rotate around to another team's workspace.  While at their peer's workspace, the teams should read over the data and think about comparing and contrasting findings. I will try to have the teams look at 2+ workspaces other than their own. 

This will inevitably prompt productive debate in the room.  

Next, the students will return to their own space and add/revise their work if necessary.

I will close the lesson by asking if any teams found similarities or made revisions.