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Video Clips and the Scientific Process
Suggestions and Student Handouts

Observation is the first step in the scientific process. Scientists themselves sometimes use video to enhance their own, direct observations. With video, they can replay an event, see it in fast or slow motion, make time-lapse observations, document changes, focus more closely, freeze action, etc. Video clips provide an opportunity for students to make authentic scientific observations, too. Use these suggestions and student handouts with your class.

Suggestions for viewing video clips as a scientist:

What do you see?
The first time you watch, record what you notice, in writing. If viewing a short clip, play it two or three times. Give yourself time to look again and confirm what you think you saw. Write down everything you noticed, like a brainstorm.

What questions do you have?
During observation, we see things that make us wonder. It is common, during a rich observation period, for many good questions to come to mind. When observing video clips, capture the questions you have as you watch. (You might use a different color pen to take notes each time a clip is viewed. It’s interesting to watch how observations improve and questions develop.)

What do others see and wonder?
Each individual sees and interprets things differently. Come together with your class and compare notes. Watch how your ideas expand after sharing with the group. View the clip again several times so you can see the new things other people noticed, and the questions they had.

How might observations be explained?
After observing events, scientists try to explain what they have seen by forming a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a possible explanation. How do you think your observations could be explained? Form a hypothesis.

How could you find out?
After forming a hypothesis, the scientist’s next step is experimentation. How might you design an experiment to test your hypothesis?


Student Handouts