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Students raise scientifically oriented questions that can be answered through observations, experimentation and/or research. At early stages, students learn how to develop investigable questions that guide their work. At later stages, students connect their questions to scientific ideas, concepts, and quantitative relationships that inform investigations.
Scientists’ explanations about what happens in the world come partly from what they observe and partly from what they think. Preliminary explanations are constructed with conceptual knowledge and propose a new level of understanding. At early stages, students think about what may happen during an investigation and justify their thinking. At later stages, students identify cause and effect relationships within an hypothesis and base predictions on factual evidence more than opinion.
Students design investigations that control variables, generate adequate data/observations to provide reasonable explanations, and can be reproduced by other scientists. At early stages, experimental design reflects what the experimenter will do to answer a question and ensure that a test is fair. At later stages, students design investigations that will produce the appropriate kinds of evidence to support or refute an hypothesis. Multiple trials or the collection of multiple data points are incorporated into the design and variables are controlled to ensure that the investigation is valid and reproducible.
Students follow an experimental design and use scientific tools (including measurement tools) appropriately and accurately. At early stages, students are encouraged to pay close attention to their experimental plan and record data throughout an investigation. At later stages, students engage in extended investigations and use more sophisticated science tools including computers.