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    Theory vs. fact
    By Julianne

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    I do a similar lesson with young students when we discuss space. It focuses on the difference between a fact and a theory. I hold up my closed hand and ask the students if they can guess what I might have in my hand. Of course they guess things like a candy, an eraser, etc. I ask them why they didn't guess it was an elephant. They tell me that an elephant wouldn't fit in my fist. So we discuss how they used what they already know to make a good guess. Now I ask them if they would like some clues. I tell them the shape of the item, its color, what it is made of, etc. Sooner or later someone guesses correctly. I show them the item and ask when they were certain about what it was. Someone usually says they weren't sure until I opened my hand. Then we talk about how their good guesses are like scientific theories. They are based on good information, but they are still guesses because we don't have all the information we need. The theory became a fact when I opened my hand and they could actually see and touch the object. Scientists create theories to explain things. But because they don't have all the information they need they sometimes have to change the theory just like we changed our guesses.

    You could do a similar activity for fact and opinion. The fact is what is actually in your hand (or in the hidden picture or whatever) the opinion is what a student thinks is there.



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