About This Lesson Plan



Hands-On Lessons

We Are All Scientists

From Galileo Galilei to Sally Ride, scientists are constantly shaping our world. Inspire your class of young scientists with an exploration of how they can be scientists every day.

Students will:

•    Identify and analyze the various roles of scientists in society
•    Clearly express their ideas about scientists clearly
Common Core Standard
(W.2.2, W.3.2, W.4.2) Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Books about scientists organized by the type of scientist, images of scientists, markers, paper, Elmer's Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks, Elmer's Foam Tri-Fold Display Board
Printable: Who Is a Scientist?

Content Introduction
Scientists shape our everyday lives and our understanding of how the world works, as well as inspire us about what could happen in the future.

These scientists have shaped our world today:

  • Galileo Galilei, 1564-1642, explored the heavens and the skies
  • Johannes Kepler, 1571-1630, explored how the planets move
  • Sir Isaac Newton, 1642-1727, explained gravity and invented the reflecting telescope
  • Benjamin Banneker, 1731-1806, a mathematician and astronomer who made the first striking clock
  • Louis Pasteur, 1822-1895, identified that germs cause and spread disease
  • Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, set up the first industrial laboratory
  • Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, 1856-1931, performed the first successful open heart surgery
  • Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939, explored psychology and the unconscious
  • George Washington Carver, 1865-1943, an agricultural chemist who studied ways to grow food
  • Marie Curie, 1867-1934, physicist and chemist who explored radioactivity
  • Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, a physicist who made the connection between mass and energy
  • Neils Bohr, 1885-1962, discovered the atom
  • Margaret Mead, 1901-1978, an anthropologist who studied how people live
  • Rachel Carson, 1907-1964, an environmentalist and marine biologist
  • Luis Walter Alvarez, 1911-1988, developed the meteorite theory to explain why dinosaurs are extinct
  • Jane Goodall, 1934-present, a biologist who studied chimpanzees 
  • Mario Molina, 1943-present, a chemist who researched CFCs
  • Sally Ride, 1951-present, the first female astronaut in space
  • Ellen Ochoa, 1958-present, the first female Hispanic astronaut  
Biologist, physicist, chemist, zoologist, anthropologist, explorer, inventor, geologist

Warm-up (1 Minute)
On a piece of paper, students record words and images that come to mind when they think of the word scientist.

Introduction (4 minutes)
Students share the ideas and images that come to mind. Record them in one section of the whiteboard. Tell students that they are going to study scientists today and that, along the way, they may change or expand their ideas about scientists.

Research Station (10 minutes)
In small groups, students research scientists. Provide students with books, magazine articles, and other resources grouped by type of scientist or reading level. Make sure that each selection of books includes examples of scientists doing a variety of jobs, and scientists who represent diversity. As they explore different types of scientists, have students record their observations on the Who Is a Scientist? printable.

Draw a Scientist (5 minutes)

Now, using what they've learned, have students draw their image of a scientist. After they have completed their drawing, students can write a few words or a short paragraph about characteristics that scientists possess.

Who Is a Scientist? Poster (10 minutes)
One at a time, students cut out their scientist and paste the image on an Elmer's Foam Tri-Fold Display Board titled "Who Is a Scientist?" Once all the students have posted their scientists, discuss what you see. What kinds of people are scientists? What do scientists do? What characteristics do scientists demonstrate? (Some suggestions: hardworking, inquisitive, curious, creative, thoughtful, thorough.)
As a class, discuss how kids can be scientists. How have they already acted like scientists in school or during the summer? What characteristics do they share with scientists already? What have students realized about scientists? How have they adjusted their idea of who scientists are during this lesson?

Tell students that during the year they will all be scientists. Then, put up the poster in your classroom to add to and refer to at the start of your first science unit. (First Day Activity: Take pictures of your students being scientists on the first day of school. For example, bring in a lab coat for students to wear as they work in science. Send the photos to parents to post on the Elmer's 1st Day website.)

Whiteboard Extension Activities  
As you continue to build students' knowledge of scientific principles, use these whiteboard activities to help answer important questions:

•    What jobs do scientists do? Using pictures of scientists, match each scientist with his or her job title (biologist, chemist, etc), or the type of work that each scientist is engaged in (fieldwork, lab research, presenting information, analyzing information, answering questions, etc).
•    Who has influenced science? Using images of famous scientists, match each famous scientist with his or her invention or topic of study.
•    When do scientists work? Place scientists and their inventions or work on a time line. Throughout the year, add your students and their work to the time line.
•    How do scientists work and think? Explain that the scientific process is how all scientists research and shape their ideas. Post the steps of the scientific process and put them in order as a class.
The scientific process:
o    Ask a question
o    Do background research
o    Construct a hypothesis or a prediction that responds to and answers the question
o    Test your hypothesis with an experiment
o    Analyze the data you collected from your experiment
o    Draw a conclusion about your hypothesis
o    Communicate your results     
•    Are we really scientists? After your first class experiment, identify a scientist who has studied the same topic (for example, if you study leaves and fall, identify a scientist who studies trees). Then compare and contrast your students' work with the scientists' work. Which processes (questions, methods, materials) were the same? Which were different?
Literature Extension Activities
•    Students choose one scientist to research using online resources, articles, and biographies. Then, imagining that they are a second, third, or fourth grader during the time period in which that scientist lived, students write a letter to that person. In the letter, students provide information about the scientist, wonder about the scientist's work, and make accurate predictions about how that scientist will impact the world in the future.
Technology Extension
Visit http://the1stday.com/ and download the Elmer's 1st Day app to capture and share the first day of school and beyond. You can create slideshows, personalize photos, share "first day" albums, and more.

In these home-connection activities, students work with their parents to apply the principles of science at home:

•    Using a combination of books and online resources, craft materials, Elmer's Washable School Glue, and an Elmer's Foam Tri-Fold Display Board, students and their parents research and create a presentation about one scientist. Student presentations should include information about the scientist, and how that scientist demonstrates the characteristics of scientists that were identified in class.
•    Students write a question they want to study. At home, they work with their parents to apply the scientific process as they answer their question. Students display their process and findings on an Elmer's Foam Tri-Fold Display Board and present it at a class-wide science day.
•    During the first week of school, parents take photos of their child as a scientist. They may be reading a science book, asking or answering questions, conducting an experiment, or simply cooking. Post these first-day-of-school images on the Elmer's 1st Day website.
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