Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
by Judy Scotchmoor
In this lesson, students are challenged to discover the relationship among six numbers. The objective of this activity is to engage students in a problem-solving situation in which they practice aspects of the process of science: observation, conversation, questioning, developing expectations/predictions, formulating explanations, testing their ideas; modifying their initial ideas, and sharing their results with others. Students are then asked to reflect on whether they were doing science. The activity can serve as an effective introduction to or reminder about the process of science, as well as provide an opportunity for students to reflect on the basic characteristics that help delimit the scientific enterprise.
- The process of science involves observation, exploration, discovery, testing, communication, and application.
- Scientists try to come up with many different natural explanations (i.e., multiple hypotheses) for the patterns they observe.
- Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.
- Test results sometimes cause scientists to revise their hypotheses.
- Scientists are creative and curious.
- Scientists work together and share their ideas.
Grade span: 6-12
- Scratch 8.5 x 11″ paper cut into sixths for displaying predictions
- A surface upon which to write the numbers — e.g., chalk board
Time: 15-20 minutes
Grouping: Small groups of 2-4 students and whole group discussion
Teaching tips: Only one example of a number pattern is given below (a, b, c, c-a, c-b, c-c). You may wish to begin with a much simpler challenge for younger students and then build up to this one, or you may wish to raise the level of difficulty! Great rainy day activity!
- 1. Place 6 lines on the chalkboard and explain to students that you are going to fill in the first three blanks and their job is to fill in the last three, one at a time. There is a relationship among all six numbers. Their job is to figure out what that relationship is.
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
- 2. Fill in the first three numbers as follows:
- 3. Ask students to predict what the next number is. They should talk with members of their team and decide what it should be, then write the number on the scratch paper and hold it up for you to see. Most students will suggest an 8. Once all groups have a paper raised, reveal the next number as follows:
- 4. After the groans have died down, ask the students: Based on what you see now, what do you think the 5th number will be? Proceed as above and when all groups have a paper raised, reveal the 5th number as follows:
- 5. Do not worry if there is some frustration at this point. And maybe some students will have guessed right! Just continue to be positive, and ask the students: Based on what you see now, what do you think the last number will be? Proceed as above and when all groups have a paper raised, reveal the 6th number as follows:
- 6. At this point, reassure the students that they will eventually figure this out and you will help them by giving them another set of three numbers. The same relationship will hold true. So just as before, you will give them the first three numbers and they are to figure out the 4th, then the 5th, then the 6th. You can go with any three numbers, but the following works well:
- 7. For the 3rd round, you can go with any three numbers, but something like the following works well:
- 8. Continue with any three numbers. As the rounds proceed, eventually a group or two will think they have the relationship—but don’t let them tell the whole class. At that point, ask one of those groups how they could test their idea. This encourages students to think about how ideas are tested. Students may need help here, but you can prompt them: Thus far, I have been giving the first three numbers, what would happen if you give the first three numbers? How could that act as a test? Let them know that they can give you any three whole numbers, but not to make it too hard on you! Ask the group to make a prediction at this point: what do they expect to happen based on their idea? Proceed exactly as above, using their three numbers and let the entire class participate. If they were correct or incorrect, find out if any other group thinks they know the relationship, and let them test their idea with three numbers. Eventually as more groups “get it,” ask a group to explain the relationship. Then ask another group to suggest three numbers that would provide a good test for that idea. And proceed as above.
- 9. Eventually the relationship will be revealed and you can express it as follows:
- 10. Have students reflect on what they were doing that scientists do. This could be prompted by the questions: “Were you doing science? What were you doing that was like what scientists do?” Discussion should reflect the concepts listed above.
If this activity is used as an introduction to the nature and process of science, then it would be helpful to use students’ comments to initiate a list of what scientists do as they engage in scientific investigations. This list can them be referenced as they read about scientists and their work or as the students participate in future investigations. Their list can also be compared to those represented in the Science Flowchart.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…