Discrepant events in science

A discrepant event is an experience that challenges our thinking, caused when the results of something are the opposite of what we would expect, or are at least puzzling to us. It is an experience designed to throw us off balance, and in science is a great way to engage students in trying to explain what has happened and why. Teaching with discrepant events invokes the 5Es model, as an exercise typically utilised in the ‘engage’ phase of the series.

If you’re not entirely sure what a discrepant event looks like yet, here are some video examples from my favourite celebrity scientist, Steve Spangler:

And this discrepant event, not from Steve Spangler, blows my mind every time:

For some discrepant events that you could try in the primary classroom, feel free to check out the following:

Skewering a balloon

Fireproof balloon

Crushing bottles

Sinking it

Dry tissue

Reverse the word and word cards

Expanding Marshmallows

Flying Teabags

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