Independent & Dependent Variable Lesson Plan

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Use this lesson plan to help students fully grasp the ideas of independent and dependent variables in science experiments. Students will watch a video lesson, read a text lesson, and plan an experiment.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define independent and dependent variables
  • identify independent and dependent variables in science experiments


30-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.


Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).


NOTE: This lesson would be a great introduction to an inquiry-based unit in which students will be creating their own experiment. The activity at the end of this lesson plan can be geared toward your current unit instead of being generic.

  • Begin the lesson with the video lesson What is an Independent Variable? - Definition & Explanation. This video provides a great overview and several examples of independent and dependent variables.
  • Pause the video at 1:36. Discuss the following questions with the class:
    • What is an independent variable? Dependent variable?
    • Why is it important to identify each variable in an experiment?
  • Resume and finish the video. Discuss the following:
    • What are some examples of independent and dependent variables in an experiment?
    • Will every experiment have just one of each type of variable? Explain your reasoning.
  • As the different types of variables can be a hard concept to grasp, students will now read a reinforcing text lesson. Distribute the text lesson What Is a Dependent Variable? - Definition & Explanation. Ask students to read the introduction and first section.
  • Briefly go over the terms 'independent variable' and 'dependent variable' again. This is a great time to weed out any misconceptions students may still have.
  • Ask students to read the remainder of the text lesson. They will now use what they know about the different types of variables to create their own unique experiment.

Creating an Experiment

NOTE: This is the part of the lesson that can easily be modified to fit with whatever unit you are currently teaching. Instead of giving student free reign of topics, they would need to devise an experiment based on the topics at hand.

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