What is Science? Activities

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    Activity 1: Answering Questions about Galaxies

    This activity takes approximately 1.5-2 hours. In the first section, students learn to classify galaxies; use their observations to answer questions about the galaxies; and then come up with their own questions about the galaxies. After going through the scientific process with scaffolding and guidance, they are more prepared to come up with their own questions and their own plan to find the answer, which is the second section.

    This activity is a modified version of "Galaxy Classification," found in Lecture-Tutorials for Introductory Astronomy by Edward E. Prather, Timothy F. Slater, Jeffrey P. Adams, Gina Brissenden, and the CAPER team.

    For more information, see the paper Slater, S.J., Slater, T.F. & Lyons, D.J. (2011) Teaching Scientific Inquiry with GalaxyZoo. The Physics Teacher, 49(2), 94-96.
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    Activity 2: Butter-Side Down?

    This activity takes approximately 1.5 hours. In the first section, students use science to take on a cliche that they have probably encountered (and which, if they have not encountered, will still amuse them): Does bread always land butter-side down? Students will come up with a hypothesis, a scientific test, a way to display their data, and a conclusion. After that, they plan all parts of a poster and give a 2-minute presentation, which their peers judge using simplified criteria. This example is intuitive, even for students as young as first or second grade. In the section section, students use their new knowledge and skills to move forward on their own projects.