Using POEs to Teach Scientific Concepts

This past weekend a group of my classmates and I attended WestCAST 2012 in Calgary.  The conference was great and Friday afternoon our group lead a breakout session on “Using POEs with K-12 Students to Develop Scientific Content “.

What are POEs?  POEs stand for Predict, Observe and Explain; an important process for developing understanding.  POEs are typically focused around a brief science demo involving a series of questions. Students first develop a prediction of what they think will happen and why then proceed to observe the demonstration of a particular concept.  After making observations students refine and develop their prediction further to incorporate the concept they have just observed.

Why are POEs so great? POEs are extremely versatile and grounded in constructivist theory.  Teachers can develop POEs to be done individually or in groups. POEs can be altered by the questions the teacher asks and the assessment desired to:

  • assess prior knowledge
  • introduce and engage student’s to new content
  • assess what students have learned about a concept/ show a teacher what a student is thinking
  • generate discussion

How can I begin to use POEs? Our group (more particularly @webbkyle ) put together a wiki with all the POEs that we used at WestCAST here:

This is a great place to start if you are looking for ideas and activities to try.

A glimpse into the workshop for anyone not able to make it…


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