This activity sets an exciting tone of exploration and discovery, encouraging an inquiry mindset in students that helps establish a community of curious, active learners. Students gain tools to explore the natural world—and are inspired to discover and attempt to explain the abundant nature mysteries that surround us. NSI works well at the start of a field experience, to get students excited about nature mysteries. It provides an opportunity for an instructor to coach students in inquiry skills, by using the language of science and engaging in scientific discussions. For instructors with less experience leading open-ended explorations and discussions, this can be a challenging activity to lead successfully the first time. The write-up includes detailed support, by providing information and strategies for the instructor. Students focus on a mystery object, generate observations, questions, evidence-based explanations and share what they already know from other sources. Once students are familiar with these practices, they can use them to investigate and make explanations about anything they find in nature through their field experience(s).
- Formulate their own observations, questions, and explanations from evidence about what they find in nature.
- Participate in a scientific discussion using language of uncertainty.
- Learn that not all sources of information are equal.
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Note: This video was edited to focus on how the instructor leads the activity; the actual activity is much more student-focused, and students spend most of the activity exploring and discussing ideas with their peers.