Scientific inquiry, experimentation, and design involve practice (skills) in direct relationship to knowledge; content knowledge and skills are necessary to inquire about the natural and human-made worlds.

Conduct a lab, set up an investigation, give a problem to solve, or perform a demonstration and discuss the phenomenon.

Skills of Inquiry, Experimentation, and Design

All students need to achieve a sufficient level of scientific literacy to enable them to succeed in post-secondary education, in careers, and as contributing members of a democratic society. To achieve this, students need to develop skills that allow them to search out, describe, and explain natural phenomena and designed artifacts. Scientific inquiry, experimentation, and design involve practice (skills) in direct relationship to knowledge; content knowledge and skills are necessary to inquire about the natural and human-made worlds.

The skills for grades PreK–8 listed below are unchanged from those presented in the 2001 Framework. The new Scientific Inquiry Skills standards listed for high school reflect essential elements of scientific practice and should be integrated into curriculum along with content standards. 

4th Grade

5th Grade

6th Grade

7th Grade

8th Grade

Frameworks Scientific Inquiry Skills

Grades PreK–2

  • Ask questions about objects, organisms, and events in the environment. 
  • Tell about why and what would happen if? 
  • Make predictions based on observed patterns. 
  • Name and use simple equipment and tools (e.g., rulers, meter sticks, thermometers, hand lenses, and balances) to gather data and extend the senses. 
  • Record observations and data with pictures, numbers, or written statements. 
  • Discuss observations with others. 

Grades 3–5

  • Ask questions and make predictions that can be tested. 
  • Select and use appropriate tools and technology (e.g., calculators, computers, balances, scales, meter sticks, graduated cylinders) in order to extend observations. 
  • Keep accurate records while conducting simple investigations or experiments. 
  • Conduct multiple trials to test a prediction. Compare the result of an investigation or experiment with the prediction. 
  • Recognize simple patterns in data and use data to create a reasonable explanation for the results of an investigation or experiment. 
  • Record data and communicate findings to others using graphs, charts, maps, models, and oral and written reports. 

Grades 6–8

  • Formulate a testable hypothesis. 
  • Design and conduct an experiment specifying variables to be changed, controlled, and measured. 
  • Select appropriate tools and technology (e.g., calculators, computers, thermometers, meter sticks, balances, graduated cylinders, and microscopes), and make quantitative observations. 
  • Present and explain data and findings using multiple representations, including tables, graphs, mathematical and physical models, and demonstrations. 
  • Draw conclusions based on data or evidence presented in tables or graphs, and make inferences based on patterns or trends in the data. 
  • Communicate procedures and results using appropriate science and technology terminology. 
  • Offer explanations of procedures, and critique and revise them. 

High School

This Framework introduces four Scientific Inquiry Skills (SIS) standards that are included in each introductory high school course (except Technology/Engineering, where they are replaced by the steps of the Engineering Design Process):


Make observations, raise questions, and formulate hypotheses. Design and conduct scientific investigations. Analyze and interpret results of scientific investigations. Communicate and apply the results of scientific investigations.

In each course, each Scientific Inquiry Skills standard includes an example skill set that further defines and articulates the standard. Also new to the 2006 Framework are the lists of mathematical skills needed for a solid understanding of each high school science and technology/engineering course. Engaging in science and technology/engineering often involves the use of mathematics to analyze and support findings of investigations or the design process. Most mathematical skills listed are based on grade-appropriate standards outlined in the Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework. Any specialized mathematical skills not detailed in the Mathematics Framework are listed separately. Please note that these lists are provided only as examples and are not exhaustive; the lists do not represent all mathematical skills students might need in a typical course.

8th Grade Lab Rubric

Subpages (1): Lab Rubric