Reflection: Modeling In the Heat of the Summer: Boiling Point Test - Section 6: Debrief


One of the main facets of a scientist’s work is data analysis. Over the course of the year I would like to take students from a place where they do not think about data to a place where they not only think about it but can also analyze it using basic statistical analysis. Clearly, I have some work to do after watching student reactions to the data in today’s class.

One of the basic points I am hoping to drive home during this unit is that scientists do not make conclusions based on one or two data points. Some students were quick to point out that their data showed that a boiling point closely matched the boiling point of the liquid found at the crime scene. They did this even after we have studied precision (consistent findings in data) and accuracy (how close to the real value the data is) and talked about how scientists use a lot of replicable data before they make a conclusion.

It seems that students are so eager to make a conclusion using evidence (which is a good starting point) that they don’t stop to consider how strong their evidence actually is. It is clear from the discussions I have had with the students that we need to work on this. However, the conversation has begun—we are getting into the practice of looking at all of the student data to talk about results rather than simply focusing on individual student data.

  Supporting Students in Analyzing Data
  Modeling: Supporting Students in Analyzing Data
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In the Heat of the Summer: Boiling Point Test

Unit 2: Forensics
Lesson 3 of 6

Objective: Students will use the concept of boiling point to see if evidence from a crime scene matches evidence found in the possession of four suspects.

Big Idea: Boiling point is a physical property that can be used to describe and identify unknown liquids. When two liquids have the same boiling point, it increases the likelihood that the liquids are the same.

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  60 minutes
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