Students sometimes think that scientific discovery takes place in a nice orderly manner and that at the end of these steps an answer will clearly unfold. Unfortunately, in real life, our labs and true science this is not always the case. Yes, science is a process and there are definite steps but, these steps seldom follow a linear path and more often than not end in further questions rather than simple answers.
To allow students to explore this process outside of the classroom I have students analyze the scientific method throuhg film. There are a great number of movies that students can view to accomplish this task, however I have narrowed it down to a handful that provide discussion points in my classroom and allow me to maintain a sense of sanity in grading this assignment.
Students must watch one of the following five films:
And the Band Played On
Never Cry Wolf
Each can be rented from iTunes, Amazon, video store or library. While the overriding themes of each of these movies are based upon scientific topics, students must focus on how each movie depicts the use of the Scientific Method or Inquiry based approach to solving scientific problems.
It is key to explain to the students not to summarize the movie or become movie critics. Remind them to focus on the aspects of the scientific method and how it played a role in the outcomes of the story.
I find that students begin to see the scientific method as being a life skill and not just something to be used in the science classroom. Students also start to see the ongoing process involved in this method and how the steps are almost never linear and quite often backtracking and pushing forward is part of that process.