Knowing and Thinking Level 1

Thinking scientifically

How can I teach students to think scientifically?

You need to be able to support students to solve problems and think logically and critically about issues related to conducting an actual scientific investigation. This may involve the use of metalanguage and processes of making generalisations, identifying cause and effect relationships, making logical predictions, clarifying assumptions and making inferences and deductions. The need to think scientifically and apply scientific knowledge can occur throughout a scientific investigation.

One typical area where you have probably engaged in teaching students about causes and effects are the topics about natural disasters; floods, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Recall the strategies you successfully used. Maybe you used flowcharts or the POE strategy — Predict-Observe-Explain.

What are the key science inquiry skills for the year of schooling that I teach?

The draft Australian Curriculum: Science identifies the following areas of scientific inquiry skills for 8-12 year olds:

  • identifying questions and predictions

  • deciding investigation methods, including planning fair tests

  • using equipment, observing, and measuring

  • analysing results and developing explanations

  • communicating ideas and understandings

  • reflecting on investigation processes.

If you would like to read more deeply about the scientific method there is a link to about the Scientific Method.

Another useful web site for background reading is at the University of Tasmania on working scientifically.

In MyScience the emphasis is on students conducting a scientific investigation that is a fair test. There are five other types of investigations that students may undertake in the context of Science and Technology that are outlined on the MyScience web site. When you have finished, check your understanding in the Types of Investigations drag and drop activity.