This science inquiry process is beneficial because it teaches kids to think– to make observations, ask questions, form hypotheses, experiment, analyze, fail, try again, and draw conclusions.
Children’s books using memorable characters and engaging plots show this process as fun and exciting.
You can find more about the scientific process in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Framework for Science & Engineering Practices.
The Scientific Method in Picture Books
Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
This picture book narrates a little-known part of Ben Franklin’s history. We see Franklin use the scientific method to figure out what the unsavory Dr. Mesmer is up to. Is he doing magic, science, or fraud? Excellent images, design, and writing will mesmerize young readers.
11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter
This science-loving heroine tries 11 unusual experiments which go through the entire scientific process. Let me give you an example:
Question: Can a live beaver be ordered through the mail?
Hypothesis: A live beaver can be ordered through the mail.
What You Need: Five-dollar bill, envelope, stamp
What to Do:
1. Fill out mail-order beaver form.
2. Attach five-dollar bill.
3. Place form in stamped envelope.
Allowance withheld until further notice.
House declared No Beaver zone.
You can imagine the illustrations showing these steps, right? This book cracks me up!
Charlotte The Scientist Is Squished by Camille Andros, illustrated by Brianne Farley
Get ready for a charming STEM story! Charlotte is squished in her very big family so she implements the scientific method to solve her squished problem. She asks questions, hypothesizes and experiments. And decides …to move to outer space. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.) There, she observes that she misses being squished. Using the scientific method again, Charlotte discovers the perfect solution that allows her to be near her family but not as squished as before.
Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Rosie is an exuberant inventor who uses things around her to invent wonderful contraptions — like the flying machine she makes for her great-great-aunt Rose. When it doesn’t fly, Rosie thinks she’s failed. But her wise Aunt Rose shows Rosie that failure is a success — and that failure only happens if you quit.
Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist by Mike Allegra, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel
When an owl shows up in the garden, the mice can’t eat the garden’s yummy food anymore. But Scampers has an idea. She doesn’t tell readers her idea (hypothesis) so you’ll have to infer but we see her experiments. First, she uses a rag-doll mouse, then a marching band, then a catapult. But the owl never moves. Scampers decides to try her experiments on another owl — one in the woods. Which moves! She makes a deduction and shares her conclusions with the other mice — that the garden owl isn’t a real owl. Now they can all eat from the garden again!! I loved Scampers’ growth mindset and curiosity! And what a fun story to model the scientific method.
Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, illustrated by Vashi Harrison
Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure by Camille Andros, illustrated by Brianne Farley
Grandps and other animals are feeling sick so Charlotte uses scientific reasoning to get to the bottom of the problem. (Even if the adult doctors tell her she’s too little.) Charlotte forms a hypothesis, makes a second hypothesis, and conducts clinical trials. Turns out she is on the right track… the carrots are infected. Not only is the scientific method demonstrated, but this picture book is also full of rich vocabulary words and sends the message that you don’t have to be oldest, biggest, or be the smartest to make a difference
The Scientific Method in Chapter Books
Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest Episode 1: The Quest for Screen Time by Marti Dumas
(ages 6 – 9)
What kid doesn’t want more screen time? Jaden has a plan for convincing his parents that he needs more time. So, he uses his big brain and fellow kindergarteners to help with his persuasion. I love this great story with diversity!
Zoey and Sassafras Dragons and Marshmallows #1 by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay
This is an entertaining and well-written story with the coolest mix of science and magic, a diverse main character, and fantastic illustrations that will get kids reading and learning. Zoey, like her mom, can see magical creatures and is tasked to care for any injured creatures that might need help. In this first book in the chapter book series, Zoey uses her science skills (including research and the scientific method) to figure out how to care for a sick baby dragon.
Franny K. Stein by Jim Benton
(ages 6 – 9)
Franny is not a normal kid but a mad scientist. We love her wacky, laugh-out-loud stories that show her using the scientific method — usually with disastrous results.
Ada Lace is On the Case by Emily Calandrelli with Tamson Weston, illustrated by Renee Kurilla
(ages 7 – 10)
Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere by Elise Gravel
(ages 7 – 10)
The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller
(ages 9 – 12)
Natalie wants to figure out how to help her mother, who we infer is depressed. (Clues: she’s in her bed all day long and no longer working.) As Natalie prepares for an egg drop contest with two other kids, she tries to solve her mother’s situation with the same scientific process zeal as the egg drop contest. Her ultimate plan is to win the contest then use the prize money to take her mother away on a special trip. Throughout the story, we see Natalie’s friendships develop as well as the difficult understanding that life and depression are not an exact science. It’s a beautiful, well-done story and a compassionate look at depression.
Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It by Sundee T. Frazier
(ages 9 – 12)
Self-proclaimed scientist, Brendan, decides to use the scientific method to figure out what happened to his mother and grandfather’s relationship. Ultimately, he will discover that science can’t always figure out matters of human emotions, including prejudice.
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