In this activity students have to work out what’s inside six 'Mystery Boxes' without opening them. You can download a handy instruction booklet, as well as an At a Glance fact sheet, a PowerPoint presentation and a student observation sheet.
A mock science conference is held to discuss different groups’ ideas and build a consensus about the content of each box, based on the students’ evidence. Students will want to know what is in the boxes, but this is never revealed.
The boxes are an analogy for science – scientists are unable to ‘open the box’ to find a definitive answer as to whether or not their ideas are correct but instead form theories based on evidence from their research, which are open to further revision.
Skills used: discussion, developing an argument, observation,
negotiation and teamwork
• Scientists generate scientific theories based on evidence, but they do not
find definitive answers.
• Scientific knowledge and ideas change over time and are open to further
revision as our understanding of the world around us evolves.
• Science is a social and creative activity.
KS3 Science QCA (2007): 1.2, 2.2 and 23
KS3 Science QCA APP (2009): AF1, AF3
KS4 Science QCA (2007): (How Science Works) 1a–d, 2a–d, 3a–c, 4c
QCA Personal, Learning & Thinking Skills (PLTS)