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Objectives:

Mystery Tubes

Molly Stump, EDCIFS 333 Inquiry Lesson

Students will understand the terms “observation,” “inference,” and “hypothesis”.

Students will understand how the terms are relevant to the nature of science.

Idaho State Science Content Standard (4 th Grade):

4.S.1.2.2 Define observations and inferences

Time: 20-30 minutes

Materials:

3 or 4 mystery tubes, already assembled with tops/bottoms covered. (See drawing below. String can be looped through keychain or simply overlapped.)

Cardboard tubes or cereal boxes

String (shoe laces or other)

Paperclips, key rings, rubber bands, etc.

Scissors, tape

Instructions:

Show a mystery tube to the whole class and demonstrate what happens when you pull the string.

Molly Stump, EDCIFS 333 Inquiry Lesson

Divide students into groups. Give each group a mystery tube.

With student input, define the term “observation” and write it on the board (i.e. Observation = statement of knowledge gathered by senses). Ask students to make observations about the mystery tubes.

After a few minutes, define the term “inference” and write it on the board (i.e. Inference = guess based on what you observed). Ask students to share a few inferences about the mystery tube.

Now, give students a chance to create a hypothesis and experiment. Define hypothesis (i.e. Hypothesis = evidence based prediction). Working in pairs, have students write down a hypothesis then work with the variety of materials (tubes, paperclips, string, etc.) to create a model based on their hypothesis.

Have students share their models with the rest of the class. There may be different models that work as the original. Use the following questions to discuss how this relates to the nature of science:

How does science try to explain the unseen or the unknown?

What role do observations and inferences play?

How do we know if a hypothesis is “correct”?

Students may want to see what is inside the original mystery tubes. It is up to you whether you will show them or not, but make sure they understand the point of the activity (see assessment).

Assessment:

Observe students during task for participation.

Have students complete a self-eval/exit ticket to be turned in after the lesson (attached).

Optional Extension:

Connect to children’s literature by reading Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man by Donald J. Sobol. As a whole class, read and discuss a chapter (one case) to see how Encyclopedia, the boy detective, uses observations, inferences, and hypotheses to solve the mystery. Discussion questions could include:

What clues did Encyclopedia find? Are the clues observations or inferences?

After finding clues (observing), what inferences did he make?

Did Encyclopedia have a hypotheses about the case? How did he test the hypothesis?

Self-Evaluation and Exit Slip

Rate your level of participation in class today:

5

Best effort & on task!

4

3

2

I’m here. I did the work.

Rate your level of understanding of the terms:

Molly Stump, EDCIFS 333 Inquiry Lesson

1

Not into it. Off task.

 I’m confused. I think I understand this term, Yes. I know this term and can use it when I talk about science. I have no idea. but not well enough to use it. observation inference hypothesis

Explain how you came up with your hypothesis about the mystery tube. In your explanation, please use the terms discussed in class today.

Self-Evaluation and Exit Slip

Rate your level of participation in class today:

5

4

Best effort & on task!

3

2

I’m here, & I did the work.

Rate your level of understanding of the terms:

1

Not into it. Off task.

 I’m confused. I think I understand this term, Yes. I know this term and can use it when I talk about science. I have no idea. but not well enough to use it. observation inference hypothesis

Explain how you came up with your hypothesis about the mystery tube. In your explanation, please use the terms discussed in class today.