Notes From an Extraterrestrial


Objectives: After completing the lesson, students will be able to:

  Make objective observations and comparisons


Key Question: "How do scientists objectively describe the world around them?"


Overview: Lesson 3 begins an 11-lesson sequence designed to familiarize students with the various aspects of doing science (see "Emphasis of Explicit Instruction in Dry Ice Investigations," located at the end of the Lesson 3 materials, for a concept chart of the 11 lessons that comprise the "Dry Ice" GEMS guide). This is the first of three lessons designed to introduce the student to what is meant by the "Scientist's Mindset." In this lesson, students play a game where they pretend they are aliens, and must describe two everyday objects in the classroom, using only objective descriptions. No inferences as to what an object is used for are allowed. The main point of the lesson is to teach students how to make objective observations.


Time Required: 45 minutes (1 class session).



  a pencil

  a "mystery" object

  "Notes From an Extraterrestrial " student handout


Procedure: see pp. 20-25 Dry Ice Investigations: Teacher's Guide.



  "Notes From an Extraterrestrial" student handout, p. 25 of Dry Ice Investigations: Teacher's Guide.

  "Skills Practice: Inferring," pp. 10-11 Inquiry Skills Activity Book.



  "Skills Introduction: Inferring," pp. 8-9 Inquiry Skills Activity Book.

  "Skills Practice: Inferring," pp. 10-11 Inquiry Skills Activity Book.


OUSD Science Content Standards (State of  California Science Content Standards): This lesson provides the foundation for the teaching of standard #1 (State Standard #7).



Barber, Jacqueline, Kevin Beals, and Lincoln Bergman. Dry Ice Investigations: Teacher's Guide. Berkeley, CA.: Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, 1999, pp. 19-25.



Inquiry Skills Activity Book. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 2001, pp. 8-11.


Notes: It is important to allow students enough time to read and discuss their descriptions to the class. This allows for a meaningful discussion of the difference between an observation and an inference through the context of student generated examples.