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Investigating Evidence Course Module

Getting kids outside through citizen science is a great way to inspire curiosity and questions! This curriculum will help you turn these observations into investigations and encourage kids to draw their own evidence-based conclusions. This lesson was created in partnership with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and has been adapted from a longer version of Investigating Evidence: Inspire investigations through outdoor observations and citizen science!

Lesson 1: Observe and Wonder

Scientific investigations begin with observations and questions

Overview: Students explore the environment and ask their own questions. They read about practicing scientists, and discover the components of investigations and ways to answer scientific questions.

Student Objectives

  • make observations and ask questions about what they see
  • purposefully make use of the “I Wonder” Board
  • differentiate between questions that can be answered through (1) reading reference materials, (2) exploring existing data, (3) observational study, and (4) experimentation.

Lesson 2: What is Science?

Science is a particular way of understanding the natural world

Overview: Students address the notion of “scientist” and learn about the features of the science process through readings and videos about real-life scientists.

Student Objectives:

  • Analyze a “Meet a Scientist” report to determine the question investigated, how and what data/information was collected, and what conclusions were made
  • Describe, in their own words, the key features of science

Standards Alignment

Next Generation Science Standards

A Framework for K–12 Science Education (NRC, 2012) lays out the vision that students will learn about science by integrating content knowledge with experience in the practices of scientific investigation. Students should be engaged with fundamental questions about the natural world and how scientists investigate and seek answers to these questions. The Framework identifies eight scientific practices for the K–12 science classroom. Each is supported by Investigating Evidence.

NGSS Scientific Practices

1. Asking questions and defining problems
3. Planning and carrying out investigations

The Nature of Science and NGSS

The nature of science is included in the Next Generation Science Standards and is covered by this unit. The basic understandings about the nature of science are the following:

  • Scientific investigations use a variety of methods
  • Scientific knowledge is based on empirical evidence
  • Scientific knowledge is open to revision in light of new evidence
  • Scientific models, laws, mechanisms, and theories explain natural phenomena
  • Science is a way of knowing
  • Scientific knowledge assumes an order and consistency in natural systems
  • Science is a human endeavor
  • Science addresses questions about the natural and material world

Common Core Standards

This unit encourages students to read, reflect, pose questions, collect and analyze data, and share results verbally and in writing. It meets many of the math & ELA Common Core state standards.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.7
Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.