Title Teaching Science in 3D Podcast. Image of several pieces of glassware. Podcast Title: Using Demos Effectively for NGSS Teaching Episode 66

67 Using Science Demos Effectively for NGSS

March 31, 2021

Science demos, or demonstrations, are a great tool to use in your classroom. But are you making the most of your demos? In this episode, get tips and tricks for making your demos as effective as possible.

What are science demonstrations?

In this episode, Nicole VanTassel (iExploreScience) and Erin Sadler (Sadler Science) discuss using demonstrations in your NGSS classroom. Too often, science demos can translate to “teaching as telling” — or a “sage on the stage” style of teaching. But it does NOT have to be this way. Tune in to discover how you can use demos effectively while carrying out three-dimensional instruction and actively engaging your students in science learning.

Common Mistakes that are Made With Science Demos

There are a few common ways that demonstrations are unintentionally misused in the science classroom. Here are a few ways.

Using Demos as Anchors

Often, teachers believe that demonstrations make good anchors. However, this is rarely the case.

Demos don’t have the necessary characteristics to make a good anchor. For example, demos are not real world events. They can represent things that we observe in the real world, but they are not the actual event. Anchoring phenomena are specific events or problems.

Also, anchoring phenomena must be broad enough to encompass an entire lesson sequence. More often than not, demos are too specific for this purpose.

Demonstrations make good investigative level phenomena. But, they aren’t appropriate for anchors.

What To Do Instead

Use demonstrations as investigative-level phenomena. Then, find an anchor-level phenomena that can be used to drive your lesson sequence. To learn more about anchoring phenomena, check out this episode.

Demos Used in Place of Labs

Recently, teachers have been using demonstration in place of labs. Most likely, this trend is occurring because of COVID-19 related restrictions. While this shift is understandable given the circumstances, the demonstration doesn’t serve the same purpose as a lab activity.

In meeting the intent of the NGSS, there is shift away from confirmation-style labs. Demos used in place of labs represent pre-NGSS style teaching and is an example of teaching as telling. To learn more about teaching as telling, check out this episode.

What To Do Instead

Consider using a 3-dimensional approach with your demonstrations. In an NGSS classroom, there is a shift from doing recipe-style labs to using the Science and Engineering Practices. You can apply this same idea to demonstrations. Consider ways that your student can use the practices to make sense of the demonstration.

For example, demonstrations are great ways for students to collect data. So, it’s easy to incorporate the SEP of Analyzing and Interpreting Data after the demonstration.

Or, have students focus on the Science and Engineering Practice of Planning and Carrying Out Investigations. Ask students to identify the parts of the investigation such as the independent, dependent and controlled variables.

Also, you can ask your student to make connections to the Crosscutting Concepts. For example, ask your students to identify a cause and effect relationship in the demonstration.

More information about Science Demos and the NGSS

Here are some more information related to the content that was covered in this episode of the podcast.