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Science Processing Skills

What are the Science Process Skills?

 The Science Process Skills          

Basic Skills


Using the senses to collect information.

Comparing & Contrasting

Discovering similarities & differences between objects or events.


Sorting or ordering objects or ideas into groups or categories based on their properties.


Determining dimensions (length/area), volume, mass/weight, or time of objects or events by using instruments that measure these properties.


Using pictorial, written, or oral language to describe an event, action, or object.

  • Making Models

Making a pictorial, written or physical representation to explain an idea, event, or object.

  • Recording Data

Writing down the results of an observation of an object or event using pictures, words, or numbers.

Intermediate Skills


Making statements about an observation that provide a reasonable explanation.


Guessing what the outcome of an event will be based on observations and, usually, prior knowledge of similar events.

Advanced  Skills


Stating a problem to be solved as a question.

Planning Investigations

Determining a reasonable procedure that could be followed to test an idea or hypothesis––defining and controlling variables.

Interpreting Data

Creating or using tables, graphs, or diagrams to organize and explain information.



Implementing Science Process Skills



Observing: Using one or more of the five senses to gather information.       


Example: Students can observe a seashell using the sense of sight, touch, smell, and hearing.  They can use a tape measure to make quantitative observations.



Classifying/Sequencing: Grouping or ordering objects or events according to an established scheme, based on observations.


Example: Students can divide shells into two groups according to similarities and differences.



Communicating: Giving or exchanging information orally and/or in writing.


Example: Students will pick one shell from a group and verbally describe that shell to the group members.  The group members should try to guess which shell the student is describing.



Estimating/Measuring: Comparing objects to arbitrary units that may or may not be standardized.


Example: Students can make estimates about the circumference, mass, and volume of a seashell. Then students can use a tape measure, balance, displacement cup, and graduated cylinder to measure their seashell.



Predicting: Forming an idea of an expected result based on inferences.


Example: Students can observe a bucket of shells and predict whether most of the shells are univalves or bivalves.



Developing Questions: Raise questions about the world around them using numerous process skills.


Example: Students can observe and touch the shells for five minutes and then create questions they have about them.



Hypothesizing: An educated guess about expected results based on background knowledge and experience.


Example: Based on the students’ research, they can make a hypothesis about the effect a weak acid will have on seashells.



Inferring: Developing ideas based on observations; requires evaluation and judgment based on past experiences.


Example: Each group will be given a piece of shell that is the same kind as one of the shells in their set. Groups will compare the piece of shell to their set of shells to determine from which shell the piece came. Then each student will make observations and inferences about what a shell was like before it was broken.



Recording/Organizing Data: Collecting, documenting, and organizing information.


Example: Students will display their shell data in a table, graph, or chart.



Controlling Variables: Manipulating one factor that may affect the outcome of an event while other factors are held constant.


Example: Students will have two shells that are almost identical. Place one shell in a weak acid (acetone) while the other shell is not placed in the acid. Students will write down the similarities and differences between the two shells.



Defining Variables: Identifying things that are likely to change or vary in an experiment.


Example: Students can define the variables in the experiment in which one seashell is placed in a weak acid and the other seashell is not placed in the acid.



Manipulating Variables: To move, arrange, or control a variable in an experiment.


Example: Students may then choose other liquid media, one at a time, to study their effects on seashells.



Designing Models: Developing a description of how to make a model, which should include a step-by-step procedure and materials needed.


Example: Before students make their model of a seashell, they should write a description of how they are going to build their models and create a list of the materials they will need,



Constructing Models: Developing a physical representation to explain an idea, object, or event.


Example: Students can use modeling clay, crayons, pencils, or markers to create a model of their seashell. They will then compare their model to an actual shell to determine similarities and differences.



Interpreting Models: To explain the meaning of a model and/or to identify the significance of a model.


Example: Students can explain how their model of a seashell is similar to and different from an actual seashell.



Interpreting Data: Explaining the information presented in a table, graph, and/or diagram.