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scientific process

Scientific Inquiry Soars to New Heights

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Scientific Inquiry Soars to New Heights

What does it mean to be a scientist and to “do science”? Over the last months, our Long-View learners have worked to better understand that, as scientists, we are always asking -- and trying to answer --questions about the natural world. 

There are four ways that scientists go about this:

  • By researching what other scientists have learned about a topic, using sources such as books, the internet, and published papers. 
  • By collecting their own observational data about the natural world. 
  • By designing and executing their own experiments.
  • By analyzing the data that pertains to their questions collected by other scientists.

Through a series of connected investigations, we explored each of these ways of “doing science.” A “citizen science project” called Project Feederwatch out of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology provided the initial stimulus...

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Elephant Toothpaste

Elephant Toothpaste

Last week we pivoted in science from a focus through a series of lessons on how engineers solve problems to deeper work on the nature of science and how scientists think and work. Mrs. Swanson took the group through a demonstration that involved catalyzing the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide. The result of the very exciting demonstration was that a huge swath of thick foam poured out of the graduated cylinder, and the timely addition of food coloring made the foam look like large toothpaste, or “Elephant Toothpaste." 

As we carefully observed, Mrs. Swanson mixed hydrogen peroxide with some liquid soap....