Author: Judy Scotchmoor
Overview: This short activity quickly engages the participants in the process of science. They develop multiple hypotheses to explain a set of observations and figure out how to test these hypotheses.
Grade Span: 7 and up
Advance Preparation: none
Time: 1015 minutes
Grouping: Appropriate for large group discussion
Scientists seldom follow a rigid scientific method. They do, however, ask questions based upon a set of observations. They then pose multiple hypotheses to answer that question. Each of these hypotheses are then tested and either retained or eliminated based upon the results of that test.
Filbert Abercrombie was, and perhaps still is, a biologist from Oxford. His research was on the distribution of flora and fauna within the Amazon River Basin. The part that he loved most about his work was that he needed to spend months each year exploring and mapping some of the most remote parts of the Basin, following some of the smallest of tributaries. The remoteness of the area and the exploration really appealed to him, satisfying his sense of adventure and curiosity and at the same time giving him a certain sense of peace. There was only one thing that drove him up the wall...the masses of tiny flies that would forever pester him, getting into his eyes, nose and mouth. It drove him crazy!
One day, Filbert was at his work and suddenly noticed that he was no longer swatting away at the pesky little flies. There were no flies around! He was, of course, delighted, but he also wondered why. He was really curious. So he sat down and looked around, looked at his notes, and tried to think of all the possible explanations for the lack of flies in this area.
So lets see what you come up with...
Great! Let's take a look at ...(select one of the hypotheses)... what could Filbert do to test this hypothesis?
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