The “Magic” Stringby: Todd F. Hoover

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The “Magic” String is a discrepant event that includes a canister with what appears to be the end of two strings protruding from opposite sides of it. Due to the way the strings are attached inside the canister, it appears as if the strings can magically switch the way they are connected. When one string end is pulled, the observer’s expectation is challenged when an opposite end they do not expect is the one that moves. This article describes how the author uses the “Magic” String to teach students about differentiating the science process skills of observing and making inferences.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:48 AM

The author of this article uses a classic discrepant event to start a discussion of observation vs. inference. The discrepant event is the string in a can and when you pull one of the top strings the opposite bottom string moves. There is a nice picture of how to use the can and how to make it.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:57 AM

Discrepant events are great to focus student interests. They can also be used to discriminate between an observation and an inference. This article explains how to make a magic string container and how using the device can help students get a better understanding of the differences between observations and inferences.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:30 PM

If you are looking for discrepant events or "hook" lessons to jumpstart a unit or the begining of the year - read this article! Do this activity! This is a well written, concise article with good illustrations about how to make the 'magic can'. It provides good clarification on how to get students thinking about the differences between observations and inferences and what happens when all of your senses get it wrong!

Caryn Meirs  (Smithtown, NY)
Caryn Meirs (Smithtown, NY)

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