What scientific practices do students use in electrostatics?

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Episode 104: Quilted University of Maryland

Scientific practices, according to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), describe behaviors that scientists engage in to investigate and build models and theories about the natural world, such as posing questions, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence. What scientific practices do students use in electrostatics?

July 2, 2018

Pedagogy Content
Developing student ideas
Physics Content
STEM-wide audiences

Lesson Contents (3 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

(2 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
Facilitator's guide for this lesson

(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
Background and best practices

(110 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. One of the NGSS scientific practices is “asking questions.” Identify at least two questions that students seem to be grappling with in this episode. Questions may be explicit or implicit (in which case students may pursue answers to a question that no one actually said aloud).
  2. Another of the NGSS scientific practices is “developing and using models,” which, in an NGSS context, refers to representations (not concepts). What representations are the students using in this episode?
  3. Another of the NGSS scientific practices is “constructing explanations.” These students come up with the idea that electrons “stick” or “slide off” of certain materials (such as the cloth or the plate). Does this explanation seem useful to you? How does it compare to an expert explanation?
  4. Do these students engage in argument from evidence? Where do you see them doing so?
  5. The NGSS does not officially recognize humor as a scientific practice, but it certainly is one of the behaviors in which scientists engage. These students make a number of science-related jokes; for example, Caleb’s remark that the cloth “looks like it can hold electrons” turns into something funny. Is this productive for the group, or does it push them off-task?
  6. Overall, what scientific practices do you see students using in this episode?

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