Using Bloom's Taxonomy in Science

Help your students internalize knowledge by creating activities that utilize higher level thinking skills.

By Jennifer Sinsel

Bloom's Taxonomy and Science

With all the emphasis on making sure each student passes state reading and math assessments, the idea of teaching higher order thinking skills is sometimes placed on the backburner. With most required assessments consisting of multiple choice questions at the knowledge and comprehension levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to cover higher levels. Unfortunately, much of what students will need in order to be successful outside the classroom requires them to proficiently apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. How can we make sure each child is practicing higher order thinking skills? 

Science is a subject that lends itself well to the higher levels of Bloom’s. Each time I plan a new unit, I sit down with a chart outlining each level and develop questions or activities that fit into each one.  The following chart illustrates sample ideas at each level:

Level I:  Knowledge

  • List the planets in our solar system
  • List 3-5 characteristics of each planet
  • List the characteristics of comets, meteorites, and asteroids

Level II:  Comprehension

  • Explain in your own words the theories of Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton as they relate to the structure of our solar system.
  • Describe how most scientists believe the solar system first formed

Level III:  Application

  • Classify these “mystery planets” as either Inner or Outer planets based on their characteristics.
  • Using your knowledge of mathematics, figure out how much you would weigh on each of the planets in our solar system.

Level IV:  Analysis

  • Compare/contrast the photos of landforms on Earth and Mars. How might the features on Mars have formed?
  • Based on the data, what can you say about the relationship between a planet’s distance from the sun and its speed of revolution?

Level V:  Synthesis

  • Design an experiment to investigate how the speed of a meteorite affects the size of a crater.
  • Construct a scale model of the solar system using materials from home.
  • Create a game that will teach young children about the solar system.


Level VI:  Evaluation

  • What were some sources of error in your experiment with craters?
  • Write an essay arguing for or against manned missions to Mars. Use research to back up your opinion.

As teachers, we can help our students internalize each subject by creating challenging activities in which they practice applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating their knowledge. They’ll not only perform better on state assessments; they’ll be better prepared for real life! Below are a few of my favorite science lesson plans incorporating higher level thinking skills.

Bloom's Taxonomy Lesson Plans:

Rube Goldberg Machine

In this lesson students learn about Rube Goldberg’s design for complex machines. Students make a blueprint for a Rube Goldberg machine, and build it in groups. They then present the project to the class.

Farming in Space

This lesson has students conduct plant growth experiments. It involves a variety of activities. Students use an animation-based building block program to design an experiment, make a soda bottle hydroponic unit, and discuss their data.

Designing an Earthquake-resistant Structure

In this lesson students experiment with how to build an earthquake resistant structure. They design and build a model. Once they have designed their model buildings, they shake the structures to figure out which ones held up best.

Elementary Science Guide

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Jennifer Sinsel