Improve Learning with Scientific Notebooks in the Classroom

As the educational system places ever increasing value on test results, teachers are forced to spend less time teaching and more time preparing students for taking tests. Science receives less and less attention overall, because in many locations it is not a required testing subject. A 1999 study in Northern California showed that elementary school teachers spent only about 8% percent of their teaching time on science. Conversely, in places where science is actively taught, student results across all curriculums showed marked improvement. Those using scientific notebooks demonstrated better scores on standardized tests across all tested subjects.

How does a science notebook help? The purpose of a science notebook is to act as a compilation of entries that provide a written record of the instructional classroom material experienced by a student over the course of the quarter, semester, or year. This includes notes from lectures and presentations, as well as notes and findings from classroom experiments. The notebooks are like those used by real scientists, and they encourage scientific thinking in students as they explore the world around them.

Students learn how to pose a question, make predictions, formulate a plan, carry out the steps of that plan, and document what occurred. There are places for drawings and sketches, as well as for making additional notes. The thinking skills used can be applied to any subject and can teach students to apply critical thinking skills to any situation or subject. Scientific notebooks teach a structured type of writing style that focuses on the scientific method.