Science can be messy...
We don't just mean that your tables will get wet and your students will be dirty. Sometimes the messy is mental!
For some missions, the evidence we collect and analyze produces a clear cut answer to the hypothesis. Other times, and more often than not, the answers are not so simple. I'm excited that Mission: Tigers! is one of those times. We thought about waiting until later in the school year for this mission as it requires grappling with the gray areas which demands some high level thinking. Then again, what better time to learn to have deep and meaningful discussions than NOW? Meaty conversations can help build a positive classroom culture as students become skilled at productive talk strategies. Learning to have quality conversations now will improve the learning environment of classrooms all year long!
The evidence we collect are clues to what is actually happening in HKK regarding our hypothesis. While we may think the evidence supports the hypothesis, we can not say definitively that it is true no matter how much evidence we find during our study. It may seem counterintuitive but that notion that one study cannot render something true is a very important aspect of science.
An Emergent Truth
Science is the most powerful process we have for finding what is true. The scientific method or process is the "nuts and bolts" of science but there is another level that we don't really address with your students that is incredibly important. It is the process of reaching what is known as an emergent truth. The emergent truth cannot be reached through one or even a few studies. To reach an emergent truth, the hypothesis must be tested many times by many different scientists that all reach the same conclusion. What we do with each mission is basically the equivalent of conducting a single study to test a hypothesis. But as in all of science, a single study is just that, a single study and not definitive proof of what is true. No matter how convincing the study's finding may be, until it is replicated by other scientists, it is merely a suggestion of what may or may not be true. So, scientists conduct studies about a natural phenomenon, present their findings (data or evidence) and conclusions (analysis) to the scientific community and the general public. There is debate about the merits and shortcomings of each study, even more studies are conducted until, eventually, we see certain results over and over again. These reoccurring results become the emergent truth.
Help build that truth!
For our students, we are focused on the "nuts and bolts" part of the process of science. As we get to the end of our study, they must decide what the evidence we've collected means for our hypothesis. There will be a lot of room for discussion and voicing their doubts about what the evidence means is a vital part of the process! Is there another possible interpretation of the evidence? Could the tiger tracks be from a tiger passing through HKK just as easily as it could be from one living there? Which one seems more likely? Once your class discusses the evidence and reaches its conclusion, just like with real studies, they need to publish it so it can become a part of the larger process of reaching an emergent truth.
Meet Beth and Curtis!
Presidential Award-Winning teacher and hula hoop fanatic, Beth loves bringing real world science to kids! Beth is fascinated by engineering challenges, technology, and outdoor learning spaces. After 25 years teaching kindergarten, she’s excited to share her passion and experience on-line with classrooms from around the world!