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Developing Scientific Explanations


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This presentation is designed to help students develop their scientific explanations at the end of a design/inquiry activity.

This presentation is designed to help students develop their scientific explanations at the end of a design/inquiry activity.

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  • 1. Writing Conclusions and Evaluations for your design labs Aka Writing Scientific Explanations
  • 2. Scientific Method
    • The way scientists learn and study the world around them.
    • It is a process of observing, suggesting explanations, and testing ideas.
  • 3. Steps of the Scientific Method
    • The scientific method has four main steps:
    • Make an observation.
    • Make a hypothesis – an educated guess explaining why something is the way it is.
    • Testing or experimentation – carrying out an experiment that has been designed to test the hypothesis (to see if it right or wrong).
    • Come up with a theory – an explanation based on results from many experiments.
  • 4. Why do you have to explain??
    • I know that you think you are done your activity when you have washed the last test tube, but developing an explanation can be the most important part of your inquiry activity as it:
    • can increase your ability to reason and justify your claims
    • can increase your understanding of the content
    • can alter your view of science
    • (McNeill, K.L. & Krajcik, J. (2006, April). Supporting Students’ Construction of Scientific Explanation through Generic versus Context-Specific Written Scaffolds. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA. Retrieved March 20, 2010 from
  • 5. The classroom process of sharing your explanation. Part 1
    • Before you submit your explanation to the teacher for final assessment you will first share your explanation with your classmates via one of two ways:
    • On your page of the class Wikispace
    • or
    • As a GoogleDoc
    • You will need to comment on five of your classmates’ explanations. Remember to follow the proper comment netiquette that we have talked about in class.
  • 6. The classroom process of sharing your explanation. Part 2
    • Tweet your theory/explanation to the members of the class, including your teacher.
    • Remember you only have 140 characters to state your theory so you will have to be concise. You can give evidence of your supporting logic in the class wiki or on your GoogleDoc.
  • 7. What the explanation is…
    • Your explanation has to contain three things:
    • Claim
    • Evidence
    • Reasoning
    • (ibid, p. 5)
  • 8. What is a claim?
    • A claim is an assertion or conclusion that answers the original investigable question.
    • This has to be a clear statement as to what is the conclusion to YOUR experiment given your data and answer or what YOU found.
  • 9. What can be considered evidence?
    • Evidence is considered scientific data.
    • This data is what you collected during your experiment and can take the form of either quantitative or qualitative data.
    • You have to use all of your data, unless you specifically state why you are omitting some of your collected data.
  • 10. What is reasoning?
    • Reasoning can be considered the logical use of the data and why it supports your claim.
    • This is where you get to justify your conclusion.
    • You also should comment on:
    • the design and method for collection of data
    • the precision and accuracy of your measurements.
    • the weaknesses and limitations of your design.
  • 11. Don’t forget to…
    • write the explanation so others can understand it.
    • use precise and accurate scientific language.
    • write clearly so that anyone interested in the explanation can understand it.
    • articulate your logic.
    • Wilkes University. (2010, February 4). Topic B: Communicating for inquiry based learning. Retrieved March 20, 2010 from