Kenan Fellows Program Logo and page header graphic

Critical Thinking in Science



This unit teaches students to utilize and develop critical thinking skills throughout each eighth grade science content strand. The inquiry based lessons lead students to create testable questions; design and perform experiments; collect, organize, and analyze data; and use these results to decide on the next step in the scientific process. Current topics, local issues, and real life situations are used to help students find meaning in the materials while learning the necessary critical thinking skills.

Fundamental understanding:

Students will understand that science is a cyclic process of research, experimentation, and application. Students will increase their critical thinking skills by participating in this process while learning various contents in 8th grade science.

Essential Questions:

How do you answer a question or solve a problem?

Knowledge and Skills:

  • Students will understand the pieces of an experiment and use their knowledge to design experiments to answer self and teacher generated questions.
  • Students will collect and organize various types of data.
  • Students will analyze the collected data.
  • Students will use experimental and research based data to answer questions, make predictions, and create an organized content guide.
  • Students will communicate their findings through various means.
  • Students will use their findings for the “what next” portion of science.


Critical Thinking in science

National Standards:

  • National Science Content Standards: Grades 5-8
  • Content Standard A: Science as Inquiry
  • Content Standard B: Physical Science
  • Content Standard C: Life Science
  • Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science
  • Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • Content Standard G: History and Nature of Science

State Standards:

This unit applies to Goals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for 8th Grade Science.


  • Students will take a pre and post survey on their attitudes and opinions on scientists, science based careers, and the role of science in their lives.
  • Learning will be assessed based on:
  • Student’s ability to design an experiment
  • Student’s ability to analyze data
  • Student’s ability to apply learned information from an experiment to a new situation
  • Student’s performance on assigned projects
  • Student’s performance on formative assessments throughout each lesson