Resource Image Inquiry Into the Heart of a Comet

by: Maura Roundtree-Brown, Lucy McFadden, Elizabeth Warner, and Whitney Cobb
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Type of Resource: Journal Article
Average Rating: Rating
 based on 1 review
Publication Title: Science and Children
Publication Date: 2/1/2011
Grade Level: Elementary School


Real science means wrangling with peers over real ideas. Wouldn’t it be thrilling to emulate a real life model of science in action in classrooms? How? By starting with a great, hands-on activity modeling an object in space that introduces both key vocabulary and science concepts with visuals to support retention and learning; encouraging collaboration to enrich student engagement with those concepts as students develop their models; and capping the experience by scaffolding an opportunity for students to engage in scientific argumentation as they discuss the strengths and limitations of their models and brainstorm ways to improve them. Read on to find out how the authors did all of that and more!

Ideas For Use


Additional Info

Science Discipline: (mouse over for full classification)
Scientists and inventors
Fields of science
Analyzing data
Asking questions
Collecting data
Interpreting data
Scientific habits of mind
Intended User Role:Curriculum Supervisor, Elementary-Level Educator, Teacher
Educational Issues:Assessment of students, Classroom management, Curriculum, Inquiry learning, Professional development, Teacher preparation, Teaching strategies


Resource Format:
Size: KB
Installation Remarks:

National Standards Correlation

This resource has 36 correlations with the National Standards.  

This resource has 36 correlations with the National Standards.  

  • Earth Science
    • Changes in earth and sky
      • Objects in the sky have patterns of movement.
      • The sun appears to move across the sky in the same way every day, but its path changes slowly over the seasons.
    • Earth in the solar system
      • Most objects in the solar system are in regular and predictable motion. (5-8)
  • Science as Inquiry
    • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
      • Ask a question about objects, organisms, and events in the environment. (K-4)
      • Use data to construct a reasonable explanation.
      • Communicate investigations and explanations.
      • Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
      • Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence.
      • Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.
    • Understandings about scientific inquiry
      • Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge). Good explanations are based on evidence from investigations. (K-4)
  • Science and Technology
    • Understanding about science and technology
      • People have always had questions about their world. Science is one way of answering questions and explaining the natural world.
      • People have always had problems and invented tools and techniques (ways of doing something) to solve problems.
      • Scientists and engineers often work in teams with different individuals doing different things that contribute to the results. This understanding focuses primarily on teams working together and secondarily, on the combination of scientist and engineer teams.
      • Women and men of all ages, backgrounds, and groups engage in a variety of scientific and technological work.
      • Tools help scientists make better observations, measurements, and equipment for investigations. They help scientists see, measure, and do things that they could not otherwise see, measure, and do.
      • Many different people in different cultures have made and continue to make contributions to science and technology. (5-8)
      • Science and technology are reciprocal. (5-8)
      • Science helps drive technology, as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated instruments and provides principles for better instrumentation and technique. (5-8)
      • Technology is essential to science, because it provides instruments and techniques that enable observations of objects and phenomena that are otherwise unobservable due to factors such as quantity, distance, location, size, and speed. (5-8)
      • Technology provides tools for investigations, inquiry, and analysis.
  • History and Nature of Science
    • Science as a human endeavor
      • Science and technology have been practiced by people for a long time.
      • Men and women have made a variety of contributions throughout the history of science and technology.
      • Although men and women using scientific inquiry have learned much about the objects, events, and phenomena in nature, much more remains to be understood. Science will never be finished.
      • Many people derive great pleasure from doing science.
      • Women and men of various social and ethnic backgrounds--and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations--engage in the activities of science, engineering, and related fields such as the health professions. (5-8)
      • Some scientists work in teams, and some work alone, but all communicate extensively with others. (5-8)
      • Science requires different abilities, depending on such factors as the field of study and type of inquiry. (5-8)
      • Science is very much a human endeavor, and the work of science relies on basic human qualities, such as reasoning, insight, energy, skill, and creativity--as well as on scientific habits of mind, such as intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism, and openness to new ideas. (5-8)
  • Process Standards for Professional Development
    • Design
      • Introduce teachers to scientific literature, media, and technological resources that expand their science knowledge and their ability to access further knowledge. (NSES)
  • Teaching Standards
    • Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students.
      • Select science content and adapt and design curricula to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students.
      • Select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners.
    • Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers
      • Encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry, as well as the curiosity, openness to new ideas and data, and skepticism that characterize science.
      • Orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas.
      • Challenge students to accept and share responsibility for their own learning.
    • Teachers provide students with the time, space, and resources needed to learn science.
      • Create a setting for student work that is flexible and supportive of science inquiry.
    • Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry.
      • Nurture collaboration among students.

User Reviews

Students Engaged in Designing Models
  Kate (Louisville, CO) on April 27, 2011
  I like how this article has students building a model of a comet. They are learning about comets while at the same time exploring the limitations of certain types of models and coming up with solutions to the challenges they faced.