Observing Details (SOL 6.1)

SOL:  6.1     

The student will conduct investigations in which

  • observations are made involving fine discrimination between similar objects and organisms;
  • a classification system is developed based on multiple attributes;
  • differences in descriptions and working definitions are made;
  • precise and approximate measures are recorded;
  • scale models are used to estimate distance, volume, and quantity;
  • hypotheses are stated in ways that identify the independent (manipulated) and dependent (responding) variables;
  • a method is devised to test the validity of predictions and inferences;
  • one variable is manipulated over time with many repeated trials;
  • data are collected, recorded, analyzed, and reported using appropriate metric measurement;
  • data are organized and communicated through graphical representation (graphs, charts, and diagrams); and
  • models are designed to explain a sequence.



Cognitive Objective:  The student will think about and explore the importance of observation in the study of science.

Psychomotor Objective:  The student will use his or her sense of touch to help identify a certain peanut.  The student will use fine motor skills as s/he draws and manipulates a peanut.

Affective Objective:  The student will work cooperatively in a group and respectfully listen to constructive criticism.

Content:  Observation can determine whether a theory is valid.  The skills of observation are central to all the sciences.  All the theories of science are simply theories until they are tested through actual experimentation, where observation can determine whether or not the theory is valid.  In biology, the major theories of the cellular bases of life, evolution, and the structure and function of the human brain have been confirmed and refined through observation.  In earth science, the breakthrough theory of plate tectonics was proven through painstaking observation.  In physics, theories concerning relativity and the speed of light have been validated through observation.  In chemistry, the theory that all matter is composed of atoms has also been substantiated through observation.


  • peanuts (in shells)   You could also substitute peanuts with leaves, sticks, or rocks for this lesson.
  • paper
  • pencils


  1. Divide students into groups of four or five.  Give a peanut to each student.  Ask students to observe their peanut very closely.  Is it long or short, skinny or chubby?  Does it make a sound when shaken?  Does it have a pattern of markings or any other special features?
  2. When students are very familiar with their own peanuts, have each group of students place their peanuts in a pile in the middle of the group.  Someone should mix up the peanuts.  Each student in the group should then pick out his or her peanut based on their original observations.
  3. Now that the students have a good idea about the details that help tell one peanut from another, have them draw a detailed picture of their peanut.  Have each student sign his or her drawing.  The peanuts should be placed in a pile again.  Students should trade drawings so that no one has his or her own drawing.
  4. Students should use the drawing to find the peanut that matches that drawing: Once they believe they have the correct peanut, they should see if it is right by asking the person who signed the drawing.  Students should continue looking until each drawing is matched with its correct peanut.
  5. After all peanuts are correctly identified, students should tell the student who drew the peanut what helped them find the peanut and how the drawing could be improved.  All pictures and peanuts should be returned to their original owners.
  6. Students should now make as accurate and detailed a drawing of their peanut as possible and again sign their drawing.  They should take into account things about their peanut they did not notice before as well as suggestions from their classmates.
  7. Next, have two groups get together and mix all their peanuts in a pile.  Challenge students to find their peanuts.  Students should know their own peanuts pretty well by now.  After all peanuts are found by their owners, students should trade drawings among each other as in step 4.  Challenge students to find the peanut that matches the drawing.
  8. Put all groups together.  Place all peanuts in a pile.  See if students can locate their peanuts.  Trade drawings for the last time.  See if students can find the peanut from the drawing.