Practice Brief 72 -- Topics: Practices Implementation Instruction

How can arguing from evidence support sensemaking in elementary science?

  • Email Feedback

Why it Matters to You

Educators need to distinguish between arguing from evidence in science and argumentation in a colloquial sense.

District Staff should support elementary teachers to shift from disconnected activities and toward coherent investigations of phenomena that produce evidence children can use to engage in argumentation.

School Leaders & PD Providers should support teachers and students as they coordinate questions, claims, evidence, and reasoning to explain phenomena during evidence-based argumentation.

What is the Issue?

Arguing from evidence is a key scientific practice to support sensemaking in a learning community. As children collect and grapple with patterns in data to understand phenomena, differing perspectives naturally arise. Scientific communities—including PK-12 learning communities—negotiate agreement based on evidence to construct the strongest explanations about how the world works, building new knowledge together. Young children are capable of engaging in this challenging scientific practice, yet argumentation is rare in elementary school science. That needs to change in order to take educational equity seriously.


By Megan Schrauben, Amber McCulloch, Kathy Renfrew, Carla Zembaul-Saul, Other CSSS Supporting Elementary Science Committee Members & Philip Bell | April 2021

Reflection Questions

  • What is unique to argumentation in science compared to other disciplines?
  • Do you have any concerns about asking your students to engage in argumentation? How can you address those issues and build on their intellectual resources?

Things To Consider

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take


  • Email Feedback

STEM Teaching Tools content copyright 2014-22 UW Institute for Science + Math Education. All rights reserved.
This site is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Award #1920249 (previously through Awards #1238253 and #1854059). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.

Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Others may adapt with attribution. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.