example, variables that have no effect, marginal effect, or opposite effects on an outcome.

Teachers of science for middle-school students should note that students tend to center on evidence that confirms their current beliefs and concepts (i.e., personal explanations), and ignore or fail to perceive evidence that does not agree with their current concepts. It is important for teachers of science to challenge current beliefs and concepts and provide scientific explanations as alternatives.

Several factors of this standard should be highlighted. The instructional activities of a scientific inquiry should engage students in identifying and shaping an understanding of the question under inquiry. Students should know what the question is asking, what

Students in grades 5-8 can begin to recognize the relationship between explanation and evidence.

background knowledge is being used to frame the question, and what they will have to do to answer the question. The students' questions should be relevant and meaningful for them. To help focus investigations, students should frame questions, such as "What do we want to find out about …?", "How can we make the most accurate observations?", "Is this the best way to answer our questions?" and "If we do this, then what do we expect will happen?"

The instructional activities of a scientific inquiry should involve students in establishing and refining the methods, materials, and data they will collect. As students conduct investigations and make observations, they should consider questions such as "What data will answer the question?" and "What are the best observations or measurements to make?" Students should be encouraged to repeat data-collection procedures and to share data among groups.

In middle schools, students produce oral or written reports that present the results of their inquiries. Such reports and discussions should be a frequent occurrence in science programs. Students' discussions should center on questions, such as "How should we organize the data to present the clearest answer to our question?" or "How should we organize the evidence to present the strongest explanation?" Out of the discussions about the range of ideas, the background knowledge claims, and the data, the opportunity arises for learners to shape their experiences about the practice of science and the rules of scientific thinking and knowing.

The language and practices evident in the classroom are an important element of doing inquiries. Students need opportunities to present their abilities and understanding and to use the knowledge and language of science to communicate scientific explanations and ideas. Writing, labeling drawings, completing concept maps, developing spreadsheets, and designing computer graphics should be a part of the science education. These should be presented in a way that allows students to receive constructive feedback on the quality of thought and expression and the accuracy of scientific explanations.

This standard should not be interpreted as advocating a "scientific method." The conceptual and procedural abilities suggest a logical progression, but they do not imply a rigid approach to scientific inquiry. On the



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