Practice Brief 8 -- Topics: Practices

What is meant by engaging youth in scientific modeling?

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Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers should regularly engage students in building, revising and evaluating multiple models. Students should learn to appreciate how models and modeling are central to science.
  • District staff and PD providers should help teachers approach the revision of models of natural phenomena over time in their classrooms. Modeling is an iterative process of representation.
  • School leaders should promote use of instructional materials that represent scientific models as having applications, limitations, and flaws.

What is the Issue?

A model is a representation of an idea or phenomenon that otherwise may be difficult to understand, depict, or directly observe. Models are integral to the practice of science and are used across many disciplines in a variety of ways. Scientists develop, test, refine, and use models in their research and to communicate their findings. Helping students develop and test models supports their learning and helps them understand important aspects of how science and engineering work.



Reflection Questions

  • How do you already employ modeling? What different kinds of models are used? What crossdiscipline connections do (or can) you make with modeling?
  • Discuss the quote: “Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.” — George E. P. Box
  • Do your students construct, critique, and revise models? How can they share, compare, and refine their models? What can you learn from student-built models?

Things to Consider

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take


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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.