Academic journal article Science and Children

FRAUGHT WITH FRICTION: Supporting Second-Grade Students' Thinking Using the PEOE Strategy

Academic journal article Science and Children

FRAUGHT WITH FRICTION: Supporting Second-Grade Students' Thinking Using the PEOE Strategy

Article excerpt

PEOE (predict, explain, observe, explain) is a strategy that supports conceptual change (Dial et al. 2009). Conceptual change is a process through which students can change their understandings, ideas, or beliefs (diSessa 1993; Konicek-Moran and Keeley 2015). This style of lesson allows students to express their scientific ideas (predict, explain), see evidence that shows how their predictions do or do not align with scientific concepts (observe), and adjust their understanding accordingly (explain). To benefit from this strategy, students must be given cues to show them it is okay, even expected, that they will have made incorrect assumptions about scientific concepts. Teachers can do this through the wording and types of assignments they use. Often, students also need an experience that causes cognitive dissonance or that does not match their previous thinking in order to change or add to their ideas (Manz 2014). When students see how their thinking is incorrect or incomplete, they are able to modify their understanding and adjust their ideas to learn the concept being taught (diSessa 1993). Students who are simply told their ideas are incorrect and that they must relearn the information generally comply with what the teacher tells them, but never take ownership of the knowledge and tend to rely more heavily on their original thought processes (Campbell, Schwarz, and Windschitl 2016).

In this activity, a question is posed to second-grade students and they are asked to make predictions to answer it: "How will different surfaces affect the distance a toy vehicle travels?" Students observe how different surfaces affect the distance traveled by a toy car and are able to amend their predictions. They are then asked to think of reasons why the vehicle was affected the way it was. During this stage of the lesson, students are led to contemplate their understandings of science concepts, and teachers are able to assess changes in student understanding as a result of discussions and writings. Prior to this lesson, students learned how friction creates heat energy but had not discussed how the force of friction can affect the motion of an object. We broke this lesson up over three days (Table 1).

Description of the Lesson

The students conducted a whole-group investigation to discover the effects of friction on an object's movement. They were told they would be investigating how a wind-up vehicle's motion would be changed by traveling across different surfaces, such as a smooth tile floor, a beach towel, a nonskid pad, and a woven rug. We demonstrated how to wind the car up safely and release it in a safe manner. Depending on the type of wind-up cars used, safety goggles may be necessary.

Students were asked to predict how far the car would move on different surfaces and which surface would be the best for getting the car to travel the farthest distance. This was the first time the concept of friction had been introduced, outside of rubbing their hands together to keep warm in cold weather, so many of our students had varying ideas about the effect the different surfaces would have on the car. We used the materials listed in Table 2 p. 45, to conduct our investigation.


Predictions made by students.

The car will continue to travel on the tile until it hits something.

It will travel at different speeds on the different surfaces, but go
the same distance on all of them.

It will go to the end of the surfaces, except on the tile where it will
go half the length of one tile.

It will not move much on the nonskid pad.

The rug will be too bumpy for the car, so the car will stop.

Sentence frames used for scientific discourse.

(Surface type) caused the vehicle to travel a (farther/shorter)
distance than (surface type) because_____.

I (agree/disagree) with_____because_____

I think that_____because_____

The investigation aligns with Next Generation Science Standard 2-PS1, which states that students should "analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose" (NGSS Lead States 2013, p. …

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