Develop ideas and evidence in science with these classroom activities

The nature of science resources try to give students an awareness of science as a changing body of knowledge. This resource contains activities for students which help them understand the difference between observation and inference, and how to interpret patterns. Black box investigations are a good way for students to learn about scientific theory and modelling because as the name suggests they are working in the dark. In real life scientists spend a lot of time working in the dark, trying to piece together data collected from various sources. Each activity includes a suggested lesson plan, worksheets, answers, suggestions for differentiation and resources.

Black box activity 1: tricky tracks

  • To help the students distinguish between observation and inference.
  • Show that scientific theories develop over time when new evidence becomes available.

Use this activity to help your learners distinguish between observation and inference, key to unlocking the scientific process. It will fit into a scheme of work for learners aged 11–14, anywhere where experimental observations are made. It can be used before a class practical which requires careful observation, followed by interpretation. For example, the reaction of metals and acids, or reactions of carbon dioxide.

  • Example pages from teacher notes, student worksheet and character cards that make up this resource

    Download Tricky tracks

    Slides, worksheet and lesson plan, for age range 11-14

    Use this activity to help your learners distinguish between observation and inference, key to unlocking the scientific process.

    Download the slides as MS Powerpoint or pdf, student worksheet as MS Word or pdf and teacher guidance as MS Word or pdf.

Black box activity 2: the cube activity

  • To look for patterns and use them to work out the missing information.

The search for patterns based on data is a large part of the scientific method. The patterns can then be used to predict further data points and then are often applied to other systems. It should be emphasised that scientific knowledge is based partly on observation and experiment, and partly on human creativity in interpretation.

This activity is appropriate for 11–12 year olds and can be easily fitted into a scheme of work. The exercise could be used to lead into some ‘real data’ interpretation exercises either using data gathered from their own experiments or data from secondary sources.

Black box activity 3: a model tube

  • To understand the concept of modelling.

This activity is appropriate for 11–14 year olds and could be used at any point in the scheme of work because no specific knowledge is required. However, it does lead nicely into thinking about a scientific model such as the particle theory of matter or the atom.

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