Building a Pill Bug Palace: An Inquiry-Based Approach to Experimental Design

 Author: Nathan Morehouse 

AreaLife Sciences 

 Grade Level: 5-8


This lesson focuses on the scientific method and its implementation through experimentation. Students are guided through a series of explorations that progressively refine their understanding of the components important to scientific experiments (such as developing a testable hypothesis, controlling variables, and collecting and analyzing data). Isopods (commonly known as potato or sow bugs) are used as study organisms. In addition to practicing scientific
inquiry, students learn basic facts about isopod life history and habitat preferences.



National Science Standards (Grades 5-8):

Content Standard A. Science as inquiry.

  • Develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Develop understandings about scientific inquiry

Content Standard C. Life science.

  • Structure and function of living systems
  • Regulation and Behavior
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms

Arizona State Science Standards (Grades 5-8):

1SC-E1. Identify a question, formulate a hypothesis, control and manipulate variables,
devise experiments, predict outcomes, compare and analyze results, and defend

  • PO 1. Design an experiment using a scientific method
  • PO 2. Conduct an experiment using a scientific method
  • PO 3. Analyze the results of an experiment
  • PO 4. Defend conclusions drawn from the analysis

1SC-E3. Organize and present data gathered from their own experiences, using
appropriate mathematical analyses and graphical representations

  • PO 1. Construct a representation of data (e.g., histogram, stem-and-leaf plot,
    scatter plot, circle graph, flow chart)
  • PO 2. Interpret patterns in collected data

1SC-E4. Identify and refine questions from previous investigations

  • PO 1. Analyze the results of previous investigations
  • PO 2. Refine hypotheses from a previous investigation


 Lesson Plan (pdf / doc)