Tips for Group Investigations

Set Up Collaborative Groupings

Forming students into teams to conduct a science investigation helps you manage the class and provides the best opportunity for students  to learn not just the science but also how to work together.

Groups of four are suggested, but smaller or larger groups are also acceptable, and may in some cases be preferable.

Each group works as a team to collect and analyze data. Reports may be group or individual efforts. Not only does collaboration enhance student learning but working in groups also reduces the number of supplies needed.

Assign Jobs

Assign each group member a job or allow members of each group to decide who does which job. Jobs and even grouping of the kids can be changed.  Having assigned jobs increases lab safety in that few kids will be moving around in the room and these kids have a job to do and then will be seated.

Safety: Having students wear lab aprons protests them from possible spills. Yes, this protects their clothes, but it also protects their skin under the clothing.

Aprons keep kids clean, but they also allow kids to be more excited about investigating. After all, scientists wear protective coats or aprons. Aprons can also provide immediate identification of each student’s job if you give out a different colored apron for each job.


This team member leads the science investigation. The director is the facilitator, but each child should do part of the science investigation. The Director determines what part of the investigation each group member performs. The director can also be the one to report problems to you that the group might be having. One way of notifying you of the groups progress is to use 3 colored cups stacked on top of each other. The top color indicates the need of the group–red (need help immediately), yellow (we have a question when you have time), green (all is well).

Supply Manager
This team member will pick up needed supplies for the science investigation from the supply table and return any unused supplies to the table at the end of the science investigation. Each Supply Manager will need a copy of the materials list for the investigation. It helps to have all the Supply Managers assemble in front of the supply table at the same time so that you can identify the materials to them and give any special instructions for transporting and using the materials. The supply manager and the waste manager might be the only students allowed to move around the room.

This team member records the observations made by the group. This can be in the form of drawings and/or written data. The Recorder collects any papers that are to be turned in by the group and hands them in. (Note: For some investigations, individual record keeping is required, so a group recorder is not needed.)

Waste Manager
This team member is responsible for discarding all used materials in their proper place. The Waste Manager should also make sure that the work area is clean and ready for the next classroom activity. The waste manager could also be the time keeper. It is important to complete the investigation so there is ample time for clean-up.