Why is Phenomena-Based Learning So Powerful?

As a science educator, you’ve probably come across the word “phenomena” countless times. Phenomena-based learning is at the core of the Next Generation Science Standards and many other science standards—but what are they, really? And why are they important?

Science in the “Real World”

Phenomena are important to science education because they give students tangible, interesting examples of science in the real world. They are also good opportunities for encouraging student inquiry: students can observe a phenomenon and subsequently ask questions and do research to find out more about how it works. 

Observable Events

Phenomena can be defined as “observable events that occur in a natural or designed system.” They are everywhere around us, but some are easier to notice than others. Common examples of natural phenomena include lightning, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, and similar. 

However, there are also a lot of phenomena that are less dramatic and less noticeable: simple things like light reflecting in a mirror, the way electricity passes through wires to allow you to switch on a lamp, or the simple fact that gravity allows us to walk on the surface of the Earth! 

Some phenomena occur very slowly and can be hard to notice, such as the passing of the seasons, the decomposition of organic matter, or the erosion of mountains. But they are still observable events that can be explained with science and are therefore phenomena. 

Anchor and Investigative Phenomena

Every module in Twig Science Next Gen is entered around a Module Anchor Phenomenon—an Investigative Problem that drives student learning.

In each module, the Table of Contents summarizes student learning for every Driving Question, so teachers can see at a glance the student journey across a full module and the phenomena that will drive student inquiry. Here, the Performance Expectations that students are working toward, the different modalities of student investigation are available at glance.

Students Engage with Real Phenomena

Students engage deeply with the Module Anchor Phenomena across several weeks of instruction—designing solutions and generating explanations.

The students connect with the anchor phenomenon at the start of the module with the module trailer. Take a look at what your students could be investigating in this playlist of trailers from Twig Science Next Gen.

Driving Questions

In each module, students follow a sequence of Driving Questions that build in complexity, scaffolding students’ acquisition of the three dimensions required to master the Module Anchor Phenomenon.

Leveraging Student Experience

Phenomena-based instruction allows students to use their experiences of investigating specific phenomena to build up science skills and knowledge.

“I Can” Objectives are included in the Driving Question dividers of each Twig Book. They feature the science phenomena that students will explore, as well as the learning and understanding that students will be able to demonstrate by the end of each Driving Question.

Space Shuttle In The Rays Of Sun

Maximize Student Engagement with Twig Science Next Gen and Real-World Phenomena

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