I have found my students have a great deal of difficulty with the concept of independent and dependent variables. Newer textbooks call these variables “manipulated and responding” but that still doesn’t seem to make it easier.
We practice these scenarios in class and do multiple labs to learn the concepts. Often they are just simple labs that can be done in a short class period. Like this lab on heat storage.
I designed this worksheet as a way to get students to quickly identify the variables in an experiment. Each scenario is only a couple sentence long, such as ” One grape is placed in tap water and another grape is placed in salt water.”
In the chart, students would identify the independent variable as the type of water. Then, identify what responded. In this case, the mass of the grape after a day.
The worksheet design is simple. It’s a quick way to practice variables, but not other aspects of the scientific method. If you want a more robust worksheet on the scientific method, check out “Early Discoveries in Science.” Students identify variables as well as draw conclusions from observations.
For differentiation, I also have a simpler version (low level) of the worksheet that gives multiple choice options. This version may also be useful for test preparation with other groups.
Grade Level: 8-10
Time Required: 15-20 minutes