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Mystery boxes: Uncertainty and collaboration

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Overview:
Students manipulate sealed "mystery" boxes to determine the inner structure of the boxes. The nature and sources of uncertainty inherent in the process of problem-solving are experienced, but reduced by collaboration.

Author/Source:
ENSI

Grade:
9-12

Discipline:
Nature and Process of Science

Time:
One class period

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Scientists strive to test their ideas with evidence from the natural world; a hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7, NOS2)

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as new ideas surface and new evidence is discovered. (P4, P6, NOS3)

  • Scientific ideas cannot be absolutely proven.

  • The process of science involves observation, exploration, testing, communication, and application.

  • Scientific observations can be made directly with our own senses or may be made indirectly through the use of tools.

  • Scientists test their ideas (hypotheses and theories) by figuring out what expectations are generated by an idea and making observations to find out whether those expectations are borne out. (P4, P6)

  • Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.

  • Scientists often try to generate multiple explanations for what they observe. (P7)

  • Hypotheses are proposed explanations for a narrow set of phenomena. (P6)

  • Hypotheses are usually inspired and informed by previous research and/or observations. They are not guesses. (P6)

  • Scientists usually work collaboratively. (NOS7)

  • Problem-solving and decision-making benefit from a scientific approach.

Teacher background:

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