Initial Publication Date: May 15, 2012

Making the "black box" model more transparent

Kaatje Kraft, Department of Physical Science, Mesa Community College.
Original authors: Kaatje Kraft, Annia Fayon, Merry Wilson, Erin Peters, Nicole LaDue, Christy Briles, Jim McDougall, and Ron Narode

This page is a supplement to the original activity description found here

Short description of the activity:

Students will interact with a mystery box with "mystery internal contents." Through a general inquiry process, they will attempt to determine it's contents without seeing the materials.

How does this activity lend itself to teaching the methods of geoscience?

This is an ideal activity that introduces students to what a model is. Students need to make predictions, test those predictions, and further test those predictions based on peer feedback.

This activity helps to build a community in the classroom, but it also develops scientific skills of communication, writing, developing models, and dealing with scientific uncertainty.

Specific Adaptations: How do these help the activity address the methods of geoscience?

No real adaptions needed--already pretty well targeted for teaching the process of geoscience.

Assessment: How are the methods of geoscience assessed?

No modification, the same assessments are still appropriate for this context.

I have added a written component for my students in which they are required to write a scientific paper interpreting the interior contents of their mystery box; and then drawing analogies to Earth's Interior in order to contextualize it with the content I teach.