Publication No. 12784
The Scientific Method
Student Laboratory Kit
Materials Included In Kit
(for 15 groups of students)
Copper(II) sulfate, CuSO4, powder, 150 g
Copper(II) sulfate, CuSO4, fine crystal, 150 g
Copper(II) sulfate, CuSO4, small crystal, 150 g
Graph paper, 50 sheets
Spoons, plastic, 15
Cups, 15 of each type
• PETE, 10 oz
• Polystyrene (PS), clear, 10 oz
• Foamed PS, white, 8 oz
• Wax-covered paper, 8 oz
Additional Materials Required
(for each lab group)*
Ice cubes, 6-8
Beaker or pitcher, 1-L
Graduated cylinder, 100-mL
Stopwatch or timer
Thermometer (digital recommended) or temperature sensors
*Materials needed are for Experiment 1. Other materials may be needed for Experiment 2, depending on the students’ designs.
Copper(II) sulfate is moderately toxic by ingestion and inhalation and is a skin and respiratory irritant; avoid all body tissue contact. Wear chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant gloves and a chemical-resistant apron. Remind students to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before leaving the laboratory. Please review current Safety Data Sheets for additional safety, handling and disposal information.
Please consult your current Flinn Scientific Catalog/Reference Manual for general guidelines and specific procedures, and review all federal, state and local regulations that may apply, before proceeding. Many states regulate or limit the amount of copper(II) salts that may be disposed of down the drain with excess water. See the Lab Hints section for recycling options. Copper sulfate solutions from Experiment 2 may also be disposed of according to Flinn Suggested Disposal Method #26b and leftover solid copper(II) sulfate may be stored for future use or disposed of according to Flinn Suggested Disposal Method #26a.
Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)†
Science & Engineering PracticesAsking questions and defining problems
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Disciplinary Core IdeasMS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
MS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
MS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
HS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
HS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
HS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
Crosscutting ConceptsEnergy and matter
Systems and system models
Structure and function
Stability and change
MS-ETS1-2: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Answers to Prelab Questions
Answers to Questions
This kit contains two experiments that will give students practice using the scientific method. The first experiment is a consumer product-testing lab in which the insulating ability of cold beverage cups will be tested and the second is a solubility lab in which factors affecting the rate at which a salt dissolves in water will be tested. The two experiments are independent of each other and need not be performed in any particular order. You may choose to do only one of the experiments. On the other hand, you may choose to do both, using the first one as an introductory activity and the other as a guided-inquiry activity.
Consumer Reports. Product Testing Activities; Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1993; pp 6–4 to 6–5.
The Scientific Method
The natural world is filled with problems that need to be solved and phenomena that are puzzling. Scientists attempt to investigate the natural world in search of explanations. Science is the field of study that aims to provide explanations and answers to the many questions we have about our world.
The scientific method is a way of solving problems using a systematic approach. An organized strategy, such as the scientific method, is an effective way of approaching a problem. A wide variety of strategies may be implemented and the following is a list of steps that scientists may use to solve a problem.
Variables: The factors that influence the outcome of an experiment.
Keep in mind, however, that although the above list of steps may be a “typical” approach, the strategy and the order of steps may vary greatly from problem to problem.
Two experiments will be conducted. The purpose of the first experiment is to find which type of beverage cup keeps cold water cold the longest. All student groups will follow the same standard procedure and evaluate the reliability of the test results. The purpose of the second experiment is to investigate variables that may affect the rate at which a solid dissolves in a liquid. For this investigation, each student group will design, conduct and evaluate its own teacher-approved experiment.
The materials in this lab are considered nonhazardous. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before leaving the laboratory. Please follow all laboratory safety guidelines.
A = Wax-covered paper
a. Only one variable is tested at one time and it is the only one that will produce the observed results.
Submit your experimental design to the instructor for approval.
On a separate sheet of graph paper, construct a graph of the averaged data. Note: The independent variable should be plotted on the x-axis and the dependent variable on the y-axis. Label the axes with the variables and the units as needed.
Student Worksheet PDF