This morning as I poured my coffee, I noticed the vase of flowers on the dining room table. Days earlier it had been beautiful, but now the petals drooped, the water was murky, and the distinct odor of rotting vegetation hung in the air. Sipping my coffee at a safe distance, I started wondering. Why did the flowers wilt? What is making the water murky? Where is that awful smell coming from? As I puzzled over these questions, it hit me. This vase of decomposing flowers is a phenomenon!
Though not as phenomenal as some of the other examples I’ve seen — like many of those found on the Phenomena for NGSS website — it served its purpose. It got me thinking about what I knew, made me curious, and sparked a drive to want to know more. In the classroom, phenomena-based instruction should do just that — but choosing phenomena can feel like a daunting task. Here are a few helpful guidelines for getting started.
- Is relevant to the content and learning goals. Consider the content knowledge required to make sense of the phenomenon. Some phenomena are relatively simple, while others are more complex.
- Is accessible and engaging to all students. The phenomena you choose should build on students’ everyday experiences and should be inclusive of all students in the class.
- Builds a sense of curiosity and drives the learner to want to know more. The great thing about curiosity is that it often leads to more curiosity. Answering one question can be a springboard to another question, and with each new experience comes a deeper understanding of the science.
Visit our Teacher Resources page to download our Phenomena-Based Learning resource which outlines four simple steps to incorporating phenomena in classroom instruction.