Everyday Science Mysteries: Stories for Inquiry-Based Science Teaching

NSTA Press Book (also see downloadable pdf version of this book)

What causes condensation? Does temperature affect how well a balloon will fly? How do tiny bugs get into oatmeal? Through 15 mystery stories, this book memorably illustrates science concepts for students and reinforces the value of learning science through inquiry. Each mystery presents opportunities for students to create questions, form hypotheses, test their ideas, and come up with explanations. Focused on concepts such as periodic motion, thermodynamics, temperature and energy, and sound, these mysteries draw students into the stories by grounding them in experiences students are familiar with, providing them with a foundation for classroom discussion and inquiry.

The story format is used because it is one of the most effective ways to engage students’ attention right from the start. Each chapter includes a list of science concepts explored, targeted strategies for using the stories with children in grades K–4 and with older students in grades 5–8, and a key matching story concepts with corresponding standards in the NSES.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
Publication Date

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Reviews (7)
  • on Mon Jun 06, 2016 11:54 AM

Finding effective activating strategies in today’s world of over stimulus can be challenging for any teacher. Stories have been a time-tested favorite among teachers for sparking interest in a topic in young minds. Everyday Science Mysteries: Stories for Inquiry-Based Science Teaching offers teachers K-8 time-proven method to engage students in preparation for inquire-based instruction. This resource provides open-ended science stories, written in a “mystery” format, to be utilized as a means for engaging students in a science investigation. Within the initial three chapters, teachers are provided with the basis on which these mystery stories were built. The author discusses the theory behind inquiry-based teaching and important links between science and literacy. Each subsequent chapter offers valuable resources to assist any K-8 teacher formulate and carry out an inquiry driven science lesson. These chapters, 4-18, are divided into three sections covering earth and space science, biological science, and physical science, with each section including a matrix for ease in locating the appropriate mystery for the topic to be covered as well as cross-referencing for multiple topics. The author not only provides the open-ended mystery, but also a purpose for the lesson, related concepts, and suggestions for implementation in the classroom for grade bands K-4 and 5-8. Additionally, each chapter includes connections to the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993). Further, substantial content information to bolster teachers’ background knowledge for each topic is also included. This open-ended story approach offers teachers an activating strategy that fosters engagement through mystery and intrigue. According to the author, Konicek-Moran, “As our tales unfold, discrepant events and unexpected results tickle the characters in the stories and prick their wonder centers...they end with a question, an invitation to explore and extend the story,” naturally engaging the students in the inquiry process. This is further illustrated in the opening synopsis outlining the implementation in a fifth-grade classroom where the students could not stop asking probing questions after hearing the story. It is a strategy that is almost certain to get any student interested in finding a solution. Additionally, it seems to provide a natural flow into the 5E model of inquiry instruction. This resource is very user-friendly and would be an asset to any teacher K-8.

Lisa Holland  (Boiling Springs, PA)
Lisa Holland (Boiling Springs, PA)

  • on Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:42 AM

My students love these stories! They have proven to be an exciting and interesting method of introducing new ideas.

Heather  (Howell, MI)
Heather (Howell, MI)

  • on Tue Jul 15, 2008 12:29 PM

Tapping into the innately human interest in storytelling is pure genius. This book is very well organized and relates well with other useful resources (such as the Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series) that are frequently mentioned throughout the text.

Robert Gilmore  (Milford, MA)
Robert Gilmore (Milford, MA)

  • on Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:55 PM

I really like the idea for the book but I teach middle school science and the stories were more for younger students. I know it talks about adapting them for older students, but I was hoping for something else. I do think elementary students would love the stories and mysteries.

Kimberly  (Decherd, TN)
Kimberly (Decherd, TN)

  • on Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:43 AM

This book had lots of connections for reading/science. Our accelerated science teachers will be using it to enhance our new curriculum.

Rhonda  (Sioux Falls, SD)
Rhonda (Sioux Falls, SD)

  • on Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:55 PM

I found Everyday Science Mysteries to be an enjoyable read. I'll be very likely to use several of the "mysteries" included in the book this coming school year with my 7th grade students. Great tips for using the mysteries are included, and clear explanations of the science behind the story will help novices or teachers who don't see themselves as science experts to use the book effectively. I'd definitely recommend reading!

David M  (Sioux Center, IA)
David M (Sioux Center, IA)

  • on Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:16 PM

This book provides stories that can be used as hooks into lesson. For instance if you are teaching about matter expansion and contraction there is a story about how the gas in a balloon will contract making the balloon appear as if it has a leak, only to expand again once it has warmed up. This is a good tool for teaching. The contents are set up well in that the different areas of science are identified. If you are looking for physical science it has them listed in such a format.

Katherine B  (, )
Katherine B (, )

$21.80 - NSTA Members

$27.25 - Nonmembers

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