I recently read the Proposed National Science Education Standards Framework. This document indicates students should be actively doing science. Processes and Skills are an important component of science education. I feel a need to focus on Science Processes and Skills this year.
My science core requires students recognize the difference between observations and inferences. Children are naturally curious and observe the world around them. Many of us jump to a conclusion or inference based on our observations. I do this when I come home and smell fresh cookies. I infer my wife spoiled me, by making and baking cookies. (Sometimes, she baked a batch of purchased cookie dough and my inference is wrong.) My students claim they can identify McDonalds or Taco Bell by smell.
I want to help my students grasp that making observations is natural and expected. They should recognize inferences they make, and how these differ from observations. Previously, I had students make classroom observations. When observations were shared some inferences are also stated. I pointed out student inferences as if each was something beyond our planned lesson. This activity led to a comparison of observations and inferences. I worry my students did not understood this well. I want to change my approach to this important Science Skill.