The Cube Activity Kathy Sparrow & George O’Brien Florida International University Science Content & Methods Courses The Cube Activity The cube activity is used with pre-service, in-service and graduate students in science education. The activity enables participants to experience the nature of science and to engage in the scientific inquiry process of asking questions, making observations, collecting data, making predictions and posing explanations based on evidence. As well as integrating the Habits of Mind, this activity also models the 5 E Learning Cycle of Learning [Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate]. The Cube Activity • The activity is in two parts, the second building on the first. • Participants work in small groups of 3 or 4. • Each group is given a cube. One side is taped down, so that it is not visible. The other five sides are visible. • Participants initially examine the cube and pose the question: What is on the side we can’t see? [Engage] The Cube Activity • Participants then write down as many observations as they can. They should come up with at least 7 different observations. We also distinguish the difference between an observation and an inference. [Explore] • Each group then shares their observations. • Although the solution seems rather obvious, participants have to support their claims with the observational evidence. [Explain] • Participants next use these same inquiry techniques to a more complex cube. [Extend] The Cube Activity • Participants follow the same procedure on this second cube. However, this time they have more information. • On each side of the cube, there is a male or female name; a number in the upper right corner and a number in the lower left corner. • Groups work together making observations to have evidence to predict the name and the numbers in the left lower and right upper corners. The Cube Activity Using the two reference sheets, participants then identify Scientist’s Actions and the Habit of Mind used. Habits of Mind have included: • Persisting (#1) • Thinking Flexibly (#4) • Questioning & Problem Posing (#7) • Using Prior Knowledge (#8) • Making Observations (#10) • Wonderment & Awe (#12) • Thinking Interdependently (#15) Reference Utilized by Participants Reference Provided to Participants The Cube Activity – Additional Extension • In the BSCS ViSTA Online Module – Inquiry (2010), participants view a video of a middle school science teacher working with her students following the same procedures as the 5 E Learning Cycle described in this slide presentation. • Participants working in the small groups are asked to collect data, make observations, make predictions, and write an explanation related to whether there is scientific inquiry in the science teacher’s classroom in this video. • Participants challenge one another’s thinking and responses to the question. The instructor probes members of each group with questions and challenges groups and individuals to present essential evidence to support each claim and/or to build alternative explanations. The Cube Activity – Additional Extension Using the reference sheets, participants then identify Scientist’s Actions and the Habit of Mind used by the middle school students in the video. Habits of Mind identified have included: • • • • • • • • Persisting (#1) Listening & Understanding with Empathy (#3) Thinking Flexibly (#4) Questioning & Problem Posing (#7) Using Prior Knowledge (#8) Thinking & Communicating with Clarity & Precision (#9) Making Observations (#10) Thinking Interdependently (#15) The Cube Activity – Some Assessment Findings • An important element of our end of the semester assessment is preservice teachers creating a professional development plan and portfolio artifacts. Professional development goals in critical aspects of science education are co-created by the candidates and instructor for online presentation of artifacts in the TaskStream Assessment System. Each candidate is required to identify goals, action items related to progress to-date, evidence from the course experiences, and reflection in relation to the past, present, and future plans of the candidate. Six broad categories of goals have included: content knowledge, pedagogy, technology skills, management skills, impact on student learning, and communication skills. • The cube activity has been cited by several candidates in a recent semester as an activity that has influenced and impacted in positive ways their thinking about the meaning and importance of inquiry-based teaching and learning, scientific inquiry, communication in science, nature of science, and habits of mind. References • This activity is adapted from Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, Working Group on Teaching Evolution, National Academy of Science, 1998, http://www.nap.edu/catalog/5787.html and the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). (2010). ViSTA Project Online Modules. Boulder, CO. Online at http://vista.bscs.org/ • Additional reference & resource: Sommers, W. A., & Olson, W. (2010). Habits of Mind Teachers Companion. The Institute of the Habits of Mind. Westport. CT.