} CAS: Teachers - Prove Me Wrong

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Connected Experience: Prove Me Wrong

Abstract

Students will collect evidence from the exhibit to confirm or refute claims made by a hypothetical naturalist on his first visit to Africa. This game addresses potential misconceptions about the continent, and shows students how sound observations may still lead to invalid scientific conclusions.

Objectives

In this activity for the museum gallery, students will collect evidence from the exhibit to confirm or refute claims made by a hypothetical naturalist on his first visit to Africa. By playing this game, students will:

  1. focus their attention on the realistic displays during their visit.
  2. address potential misconceptions about the African continent.
  3. understand how sound observations may still lead to invalid scientific conclusions.

Materials

  • Hypothesis in Hand printouts, or paper and markers for students to make their own
  • Conclusions from a hypothetical naturalist visiting Africa
  • note cards
  • pencils

Activity

Before Your Visit

Procedure

  1. Make copies of the Hypothesis in Hand sheet, or have students make their own.
  2. Show students how to fold the sheet into thirds, like folding a letter. Practice folding and unfolding the sheet such that only one of the three letters is visible at any one time. Say, “show me a T!” and give students several seconds to reconfigure the sheet and display it towards you with a raised hand.
  3. Tell students that this sheet will be used to display their hypothesis -- true (T), false (F), or sometimes true and sometimes false (S) -- about a scientific conclusion that you will read aloud.
  4. Read out an ‘Idea about the Natural World’ (examples listed below, but feel free to come up with your own!) and tell students to “get their hypothesis in hand!” and raise it high. Because the sheet has three options and can be folded many ways, peers will not be able to determine what their neighbor is guessing, eliminating peer pressure from the game.

    Ideas about the Natural World True, False, or Sometimes?

    The moon is made of cheese.  (F)
    The Earth is flat.(F)
    Heavy objects fall faster than lighter objects.(F)
    All birds have feathers.(T)
    Dogs are good swimmers.(S)
    Pine trees are a type of plant.(T)
    Sharks are larger than other fish.(S)
    Birds are animals that fly.(S)
    The sun rises in the East.(T)
    Getting to school by car is faster than by bus.(S)
    Flowers are the color red.(S)
  5. As you propose the ‘Ideas,’ lead a discussion about the role of the following in science: collecting evidence, performing repeated investigations, drawing conclusions.
    • Is this idea true, false, or sometimes true and sometimes false? (T/F/S)
    • What evidence exists to support this conclusion?
    • How, when, where, and by whom was the evidence collected?
    • How might you collect more data to either support this idea, or prove it wrong?

At the Museum

Preparation

  1. Prepare note cards for the field trip by writing one conclusion onto each. Omit the ‘answer’ indicated at left.
  2. Have students bring their Hypothesis in Hand sheet with them.

Procedure

  1. Distribute one card to each student group, and explain that the card states a conclusion reached by a naturalist who previously visited the African continent.
  2. Do they agree with this conclusion? Based on observations from the dioramas, do they deem the statement true, false, or sometimes true and sometimes false? What evidence can they collect to support the statement, or prove it wrong?
  3. Give students at least 10 minutes to explore the gallery and collect visual data. If desired, instruct students to record evidence for their conclusions on the back on their card.
  4. Gather together in the center of the hall. Proceeding one card at a time, let each group lead the Hypothesis in Hand guessing game for their conclusion. Does there seem to be a majority of T, F, or S? After briefly acknowledging the assumptions of the class, have the appropriate student experts present to the class the evidence they collected.

Back at School

Procedure

  1. Have students write a paragraph or report briefly on their results. Give students a full minute to think of two things they believed about Africa before they arrived at the museum: one idea that was reinforced by observations in the gallery, and another that was disproved by evidence collected during the trip. Did their perceptions of Africa change or stay the same?
  2. Have students share their realizations with group members. Alternatively, list ideas on the board to determine commonalities or spark further discussion.

Extensions

  • Discuss the relationship between the terms hypothesis, theory, and law, and give examples showing how these words may have different meanings when outside a scientific context.

California Content Standards

Grade Three

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 5a. Repeat observations to improve accuracy and know that the results of similar scientific investigations seldom turn out exactly the same because of differences in the things being investigated, methods being used, or uncertainty in the observation.
  • 5b. Differentiate evidence from opinion and know that scientists do not rely on claims or conclusions unless they are backed by observations that can be confirmed.
  • 5e. Collect data in an investigation and analyze those data to develop a logical conclusion.

Grade Four

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 6a. Differentiate observation from inference (interpretation) and know scientists’ explanations come partly from what they observe and partly from how they interpret their observations.

Grade Five

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 6h. Draw conclusions from scientific evidence and indicate whether further information is needed to support a specific conclusion.
  • 6i. Write a report of an investigation that includes conducting tests, collecting data or examining evidence, and drawing conclusions.

Grade Six

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 7e. Recognize whether evidence is consistent with a proposed explanation.

Grade Seven

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 7c. Communicate the logical connection among hypotheses, science concepts, tests conducted, data collected, and conclusions drawn from the scientific evidence.
  • 7e. Communicate the steps and results from an investigation in written reports and oral presentations.

 

Background

Science as a process involves making observations and measurements from one’s surroundings, predicting results, inferring conclusions, classifying items, and designing models. The aim of science is the explore and explain the natural world, but it differs from other approaches because it requires scientists to rid themselves of personal bias, point of view, and circumstance while inferring results. To do so requires a structured investigation that involves collecting evidence while taking into account any factors that might affect the outcome, including one’s own assumptions. A scientific conclusion is only valid if it can be reached regardless of time, place, or personal perception.

 

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