List of Hypotheses
You can list potential hypotheses that kids initially have about “what’s going on” in the target phenomenon. These answer the question, “What might be contributing to or causing X?” These hypotheses can be very simple to start with. They are usually a mix of one-sentence observations, inferences, and mini-theories, but they are not full blown explanations. Don’t deny kids’ contributions because they are brief or because they aren’t using scientific language.
This might be followed by probing kids for more pieces of their causal story. Place a question mark behind each hypotheses at first so students understand that the hypotheses are not yet supported by evidence. As you then engage in cycles of reading, activity, and connecting with students’ everyday experiences, you can gather evidence and ideas that can be applied to the list of hypotheses. Some hypotheses might get crossed out as implausible, others might be supported, others might be elaborated upon as time goes on, and some hypotheses might be linked with others. Interestingly, this is exactly what happens in authentic science.
Next to the list or below it there should be space for “Questions we still have about…”
Watch Suzanne talk about how she used a list of hypotheses with her middle school students in a unit on yeast and cellular respiration.