Identifying Variables – Lab Station Activity

interactive lab activities

The first science lessons at the beginning of the year usually focus on lab safety and the scientific method. I have several scientific method worksheets to help students learn how to *do* science. The scientific method is a systematic approach to investigating natural phenomena or acquiring new knowledge. In this interactive lab, students have the opportunity to perform mini-experiments and identify variables.

In earlier grades, students may have learned about the steps of the scientific method. These generally involve asking questions, formulating hypothesis, performing an experiment, and drawing conclusions. As high school students, I try to stress that these steps do not encompass all the ways we do science.

For this activity, I focus on identifying variables by doing short tests to answer a question. There are 6 lab stations with equipment and instructions for performing the test. Then students write down observations and a conclusion statement.

All of the materials are easy to obtain and each test should only take a few minutes. Students rotate through each station to perform the tests and complete their data table. Answer key is available at TpT.

Lab Station Questions

1. How does the type of water affect absorption (using water beads) ? Students place water beads in distilled water and in salt water.

2. How does water affect magnets? Students test a magnet both in water and outside water.

3. Does salt affect the density of water? Students float an egg in tap water and in salt water.

4. How does soap affect surface tension? Place pepper on a tray of water and then use a toothpick with soap to break the surface tension.

5. Which type of paper is most absorbent? Test different brands of paper towels using graduated cylinders.

6. Which size of marble moves fastest down an inclined plane? Use a ruler and a large and small marble to test.

Related Resources

Lab Safety Contract – students sign this contract after learning about lab safety

Tools and Measurements – how to use various tools in the lab, such as a graduated cylinder, ruler, and beaker

Lab Safety Cartoon – a fun activity showing a cartoon of unsafe activities in the lab

Equipment Station Lab – a station lab activity where students move through stations and perform tasks with scientific equipment

Discoveries in Science 🔥- focus on Pasteur’s experiment and other discoveries in science