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In addition to teaching physical science content (nature of light and color, Newton's Laws, etc.), the CIPS curriculum provides opportunities for students to learn and repeatedly practice a number of "nature of science" skills. These include:

  • Writing and evaluating scientific explanations and conclusions. For example, students learn that an explanation is good when it is not an opinion, relies upon all (not just some) available experimental or observational evidence, and is based upon the evidence produced by "fair tests."

  • Designing "fair tests" of scientific hypotheses. For example, students learn that, if they design an experiment to test the hypothesis that that magnet strength increases with magnet size, then the experiment is a fair test only if magnet size alone is varied.  If another factor (like magnet material) is also varied, then the experiment is not a fair test, and one cannot reach a valid conclusion about the hypothesis.

  • Metacognition. This means that students become aware of their own thinking and learning.  They identify their original beliefs about a topic, and as new evidence arises to challenge those beliefs, students determine the relevance of the new evidence and modify their beliefs accordingly.  Students have opportunities to reflect on how their ideas and thinking have changed because of the new evidence.


CIPS requires students to work in groups in nearly every activity.  Thus, in CIPS students learn to work and be productive in a cooperative environment.  

In small-group discussions, CIPS stresses that students must practice the skills of listening to fellow group members, and treating both other group members and their ideas with respect. 

In hands-on experiments and activities, students are assigned different roles.  The roles rotate between group members, so students have opportunities to learn and practice each role.  These roles are depicted in the posters linked below:

Using cooperative skills in a CIPS class is essential if both the group and individual group members are to be productive.  These skills also transfer from the classroom to the community at large, because the skills of working together, listening to others, and respecting their ideas, are simply social skills that can enhance productivity and effectiveness in school, work, and community settings.






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