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Using model-based inquiry in the classroom. Michael Krasilovsky Corvallis School District Ron Gray, P h.D. Northern Arizona University. *. Why model-based inquiry?. Scientific and Engineering Practices Asking questions and defining problems Developing and using models

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Using model based inquiry in the classroom
Using model-based inquiry in the classroom

Michael Krasilovsky

Corvallis School District

Ron Gray, Ph.D.

Northern Arizona University


Why model based inquiry
Why model-based inquiry?

Scientific and Engineering Practices

  • Asking questions and defining problems

  • Developing and using models

  • Planning and carrying out investigations

  • Analyzing and interpreting data

  • Using mathematics and computational thinking

  • Engaging in argument from evidence

  • Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information


What are models
What are models?

  • A representation of a phenomenon that serves as a ‘bridge’ connecting a theory and a phenomenon.

  • Describes, explains, and predicts natural phenomena while communicating scientific ideas to others.

  • Multiple models can be developed to study the same phenomenon, each of which has limitations because it only represents a specific aspect of a phenomenon.

  • Are tested empirically and conceptually and are revised with new information.


Scientific models can be
Scientific models can be…

  • Physical models (solar system, planetarium terrarium, model of cell, model airplane)

  • Computer programs (flight simulator, global warming, nuclear reactions))

  • Mathematical equations (E=mc2)

  • Conceptual diagrams (flowcharts)

  • Theoretical models (electromagnetic field lines)

  • Maps, diagrams, tables, etc. (periodic table, phylogenetic trees, circuits)

    Other examples?


Role of models in the classroom
Role of models in the classroom

  • Models play multiple roles in the science classroom during MBI:

    • Pedagogical – helps students communicate their ideas to the teacher and keep track of ideas over time.

    • Social – allows multiple students to build understanding together.

    • Epistemic– shows students how scientists construct knowledge through modeling. Focuses on knowledge as predictive and explanatory.


Let s practice
Let’s practice…

Construct a simple model for:

  • How we see an object across the room.

  • Population of deer over 30 years after the majority of predators are killed.

    Now how do we test them?


The kaibab plateau data
The Kaibab Plateau data


What is model based inquiry
What is model-based inquiry?

  • Big idea

  • Phenomenon of interest

  • Eliciting students’ initial hypotheses and models

  • Purposeful activities, sense-making conversations, and model revision

  • Model testing & revision

  • Final evidence-based explanation

  • Application to new phenomenon


An example
An example…

Big Idea

The transfer of energy from the interior of the Earth through convection currents drives plate movements.


Axial Seamount



A few weeks later we want...


Model #4

Is Axial at a plate boundary?

Convergent or Divergent?

What about the boundary with Oregon?

Why are the plates moving?

So let’s begin the MBI...


Next: Is Axial at a plate boundary?

Model 1:

Axial is a Volcano

earthquake locations


Model2: At a Boundary

Next: Convergent or Divergent Boundary?

radiometric dating and magnetic reversals evidence webhunt


Model 3: Divergent

Next: What about Oregon’s Boundary & the Mechanism?

earthquake depths, rock ages/magnetic

Make a testable hypothesis
Make a testable hypothesis

  • If plates have collided, there should be mountains

  • If plates are diverging, then axial should get bigger

  • If axial is formed from a divergence, then we should see the same pattern of rock ages and magnetic reversals at other submarine volcanoes




Challenges successes
Challenges & Successes

  • Can’t give away too much information or “the answer”

  • Need to be very deliberate about the types of questions you ask the students to guide their thinking

  • MBI student vocabulary matches that of guest speakers

  • Students are engaged in finding the answer, see an authentic progression

  • Students are able to see what they’ve learned

  • Teachers are able to see misconceptions that wouldn’t have been vocalized


Other mbi examples
Other MBI examples

  • Evolution:

    • Big idea: Natural selection

    • Phenomenon: Darwin’s Galapagos finches

  • Gas Laws:

    • Big idea: Kinetic molecular theory

    • Phenomenon: Tanker implosion

  • Ecosystems:

    • Big idea: Interconnectedness of ecosystems

    • Phenomenon: Australia’s Cane Toad invasion


Converting a unit to mbi
Converting a unit to MBI

  • What units do you teach that would lend themselves to MBI?

  • What is the big idea of the unit?

  • What phenomenon is:

    • Illustrative of the big idea

    • Engaging

    • Authentic (hopefully!)

      A great resource: UW - Dr. Mark Windschitl


Using model based inquiry in the classroom1
Using model-based inquiry in the classroom

Michael Krasilovsky

Corvallis School District

[email protected]

Ron Gray

Northern Arizona University

[email protected]