Research Cycle

Melanie Smith LM 555 Spring 2016

The 7 Steps

The research cycle was developed by Jamie McKenzie in 1995. In this research method, emphasis is given at the beginning to develop questions that help to clarify and establish the next steps in the research process.

The research cycle is made up of seven stages:

  1. Questioning: The student asks questions to clarify the information needed.
  2. Planning: The student identifies likely sources of information.
  3. Gathering: The student collects information that might be used.
  4. Sorting & sifting: The student sorts and sifts the information.
  5. Synthesizing: The student arranges and rearranges information in search of patterns or to make understanding of the material better.
  6. Evaluating: The student determines what information might be missing and repeats earlier stages of the research cycle if needed.
  7. Reporting: The student reports on the information they obtained.

The steps are repeated as needed.

Lesson Plan Handout

Lesson Plan #1-

Phases of the Moon, 1st – 3rd grade Science


As part of the study of space, the students will observe, describe and predict the patterns of the moon. The teacher will ask students what they already know about the moon. (Questioning) Next, students will view a Nearpod presentation about the moon's phases to introduce the topic. (Planning, gathering)The students will work in pairs to represent the moon's phases using black and white sandwich cookies (synthesizing, evaluating) and record the phases in their Science journals (sharing).

(This lesson was created as part of the 2016 NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.)

Materials Needed:

Black/White Sandwich cookies


Craft Sticks

One Sheet of Paper per Student

1 Pencil per Student


Science Journals

Moon Phases Hand outs

Lesson Plan #2-

George Washington Carver, 1st – 3rd grade Social Studies/ELA/Science


The teacher will ask students if they have ever eaten a sweet potato or peanuts. (The teacher should make sure there are no allergies to either of these foods before bringing them into the classroom.) The teacher will ask the students what they already know about George Washington Carver and ask them to see if they learn anything new about his life as the teacher reads the book A Weed is a Flower: the Life of George Washington Carver. (Questioning) After the story, students will work in groups and be given a sweet potatoes and peanuts to examine the structure and to distinguish the different parts of the plant. Then students will watch George Washington Carver- For Kids on Youtube. (Gathering, sorting and sifting, synthesizing). The students will draw a picture of a sweet potato or a peanut in their science journals and add descriptive words for each. The students will records two facts about George Washington Carver in their journals. (Evaluating) Each group will share with the class two of the facts they gather during the activities. (Sharing)

Materials needed:

A Weed is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver by Aliki

A computer and projector, SmartBoard, or other way to share YouTube video

Enough sweet potatoes and peanuts for each group

Science Journal



If desired, mashed sweet potatoes or peanut butter for the students to eat (ALLERGY ALERT!)

For younger students

1. Questioning- Ask questions about what you want to know

2. Planning- Think about how you can find out what you want to know, where can you look to find answers

3. Gathering- Gather up information and possible sources for information

4. Sorting and Sifting- Ask what is really important and stick to the subject

5. Synthesizing- Rearrange your information so that it makes sense and goes in order

6. Evaluating- Ask yourself if you like what you have found/done/made happen

7. Sharing- Share it with others and turn it in!