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How to Make a Good Scientific Model

Are your students able to generate observations and then construct a good scientific model?  After your students complete an inquiry activity, use our scientific model checklist to guide them through constructing and refining a model. Encourage students to use the checklist to ensure their model is sound. Allow lab groups to switch models and critique them. Go through as many refinements as time permits. Ask the class to select the best model and display it on a “Super Models” poster or wall. At the end of the course, each concept you studied will have a representative model, which students can use as an exam review guide.


What Makes a Good Scientific Model?

A good model is:

  • based on reliable observations.
  • able to explain the characteristics of the observations used to formulate it.
  • predictive.
  • able to explain phenomena that were not used to develop the model.
  • able to be refined when new, credible, conflicting observations arise.
  • limited and simplifies a concept, theory, or object.
  • physical (2-dimensional or 3-dimensional) or
  • mathematical (includes a single formula or many formulae) or
  • conceptual (digital or print).
  • a computer or physical simulation of a natural phenomenon.

 

AP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board®, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, these products.

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