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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:
College

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.

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as new ideas surface and new evidence is discovered.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

  • Scientists usually work collaboratively.

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

Teacher background:

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