Taking the “Mystery” Out of Argumentation

Contributor
Eun Ju Lee, Suleyman Cite, and Deborah Hanuscin.
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Experiment/Lab Activity , Article
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This is an article from the journal Science & Children that adapts the traditional Elementary Science Study Mystery Powder to focus more on the practice of argumentation. In the unit, students investigate five mystery powders to develop an understanding of physical and chemical properties. The five mystery powders include: baking soda, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and Plaster of Paris. Students are asked to examine the properties of several unlabeled containers of white powder and figure out what they are by comparing their properties to the properties of powders in properly labeled containers.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 5
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

5-PS1-3 Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.

Clarification Statement: Examples of materials to be identified could include baking soda and other powders, metals, minerals, and liquids. Examples of properties could include color, hardness, reflectivity, electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, response to magnetic forces, and solubility; density is not intended as an identifiable property.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include density or distinguishing mass and weight.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The activity describes students making observations of several powders and using the properties to identify the powders. However, the article doesn’t include any description of making measurments during the activity. A focusing or driving question might be a good start to the instructional sequence explained in the article. The practice of this Performance Expectation is implicitly identified many times throughout the article

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students construct their understanding of argumentation through investigation, reading of informational text and discourse. The students were provided an opportunity to apply this science practice.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
This article does an excellent job explaining how the students doing are the practice of the edited performance expectation.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students are provided multiple opportunities to engage with the content of the Disciplinary Core Ideas. Students completed a data table recording their observations. I am wondering did students construct the data table. I think it was teacher constructed. A change I would make would be to have students make the data table.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
When students are observing the different substances they have the opportunities to observe, record and discuss the shapes of the different granules.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The disciplinary core ideas and the practices are addressed significantly in the lesson sequence. There is not a strong connection to the cross-cutting-concept although there are opportunities.

  • Instructional Supports: A very coherent series of lessons. Instructional decisions are made based on what is happening with students. The teacher uses formative assessments to make those decisions.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Student learning and struggles were explicitly described but no reference was made to giving students feedback individually. The article does state no grades were assigned as this series of lessons was for instructional and not used for assessment. Formative assessments were made all through the lessons.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -