Per Nex tGeneration Science Standards, science education is undergoing a tremendous transformation. Currently, the most significant changes tohow science education is being delivered in the classroom are students learningto make claims and how to construct models to help support those claims bylinking evidence to their claim by way of scientific principles theydiscover by observing phenomena.
Students make claims about observedphenomena then set about to investigate it and collect data. Upon data collection, the students makemodels, both on an individual basis and then go on to creating group consensusmodels. The students are taught that eachmodel has strengths and weaknesses, depending on the idea, concept or phenomenonthat has been explored. They are alsotaught that models can and should be revised and refined upon collection of newevidence.
Below is an example of a student created modelof how we see an object:
The student illustrated the conditions necessary for one to be able to see a cell phone ina darkened room. The four basicconditions were all present in the model, which is conceptually correct.
In another model, thestudent illustrated how we can smell the odor of a cupcake.
The student clearly indicated thatthe cupcake is made up of particles that can travel through the air and can bedetected by our noses.
Creating models not only helps thestudents to understand a phenomenon, it also helps them to communicate theunderlying concepts succinctly and accurately; the only caveat being that nomatter how effective and efficient a model is at conveying an idea, it stillhas limitations and can be modified as needed. Stating a claim comes quite naturally to the students, but our grade 7and grade 8 students are exceeding expectations with their understanding andapplication of models in our science classes.