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  • This activity is designed to explicitly teach ideas about the nature of science. It contains no specific science content knowledge. Students can learn about the nature of science without having to try to understand new science content at the same time.

    Use the activity as:

    • part of a unit on the nature of science
    • part of a unit on innovation and invention – the need to collect (and fit) aditional information while creating and working with prototypes, or
    • a component of an existing science programme.

    In this activity, students try to assemble a meaningful sentence by successively turning over a set of word cards. Parallels are drawn to particular aspects of the nature of science.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • describe aspects of the nature of science such as the self-correcting nature of science, the tentative nature of scientific knowledge and science as an on-going endeavour
    • give one real-world example of science as an on-going endeavour
    • give one real-world example of the tentative nature of scientific knowledge.

    Download the Word file (see link below) for:

    • introduction/background notes
    • what you need
    • what to do
    • word cards.


    This activity is based on ‘Dogs and Turnips’ written by Al Janulaw and Judy Scotchmoor (University of California Museum of Paleontology).

    Related content

    Nature of science – introduction curates many of the Hub's nature of science (NoS) resources. Use the resources to unpack this strand of the New Zealand Curriculum and show NoS in action.

    Use The extra piece as a follow-on to this activity. Students assemble a tangram as a square and then reassemble the tangram incorporating an additional piece they are given.

    Useful links

    See the original Dogs and Turnips activity.

    Understanding Science is an educational website for teaching and learning about the nature and process of science. It has an interactive flowchart that represents the process of scientific inquiry, with links to relevant teaching and learning resources.

      Published 7 October 2011 Referencing Hub articles
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