Teaching the Scientific Method in the Special Education Classroom

My high school biology class started working on an elementary science standard to kick of the school year: Design Problems. We are using this standard to teach the students about the Scientific Method.

DESIGN problems

Define the Problem

Which student can build a catapult that will shoot the marshmallow the farthest?


Do Your Research

We researched different designs on the internet. We printed pictures and passed them to the group leaders.


Develop a Possible Solution and Design a Possible Solution

Each group decided on a marshmallow catapult.


Build a Prototype

The students created the catapults. I am not quite sure who had more fun creating these catapults, the adults or the students. There was some competition going on in the classroom!



Test It

We tested the catapults and measured their distance to compare them. We did this in the hallway. It was quite the challenge for the students to pull the spoon back, keep the marshmallow on it and then release. Most of ┬ámy students needed assistance in completing this task. (… and yes, we also used the catapult to shoot a marshmallow into an adults mouth.. only worked once ;-))



Evaluate Your Solution

We made a bigger catapult to be able to shoot it even further. It was pretty amazing how far the bigger catapult shot the marshmallow. We did not expect that at all.


After going through all of the steps, we created a bulletin board together to review the scientific method. The students loved it and are very proud to display their work. This activity took my class two days. We are still using the bulletin board to refer back to the steps of the scientific method.


We felt like this was a great start for our Biology class since we plan on having many experiments with our students throughout the year. Plus, this is what the general education classroom is doing as well – working on the scientific method.