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Coastal Heritage Curriculum Connection

Explore Curriculum Connection guides, which are written to accompany each issue of Coastal Heritage, a quarterly publication of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Coastal Heritage, Fall 2006 issue: Discovery Learning Comes of Age

Focus Questions

  • How can I help students develop their scientific process skills in fun ways that does not require full-blown science fair projects?

Use the Curriculum Connection to address these South Carolina Inquiry Curriculum Standards


4th Grade

  • Classify observations as either quantitative or qualitative.
  • Summarize the characteristics of a simple scientific investigation that represent a fair test (including a question that identifies the problem, a prediction that indicates a possible outcome, a process that tests one manipulated variable at a time, and results that are communicated and explained).
  • Distinguish among observations, predictions, and inferences.


6th Grade

  • Differentiate between observation and inference during the analysis and interpretation of data.


7th Grade

  • Generate questions that can be answered through scientific investigation.
  • Explain the reasons for testing one independent variable at a time in a controlled scientific investigation.
  • Critique a conclusion drawn from a scientific investigation.


8th Grade   

  • Design a controlled scientific investigation.

Lesson Links

Exploring Scientific Inquiry and the Nature of Science

Making Observations and Developing Inferences

This activity is fun for learners of any age, particularly for late elementary-high school. Students make observations of REAL cancelled checks to explore the pattern seeking methods of science. See to download the lesson plan and a PDF of the cancelled checks to use with your groups of students. For sources of activity directions, worksheets and extensions, visit: &

Crime Scene Science: This activity introduces scientific process skills through a simulated crime scene for student groups to solve, using clues received piecemeal. Students must adjust their hypotheses as more clues are discovered and communicated among their group members. This lesson demonstrates how science is used effectively to reveal how scientists come to understand unwitnessed events of the past by collecting evidence, such as in paleontology, geology, evolution and astronomy.

2. Building and Testing Predictions

Mystery Box: Students are presented a problem and develop a hypothesis. Teacher shows a closed box to the class. The box has wires running through the box lengthwise and more running through it widthwise, creating a grid of internal crossed wires. The class is told that there is a metal washer somewhere on the wires inside the box and they are challenged to develop a series of “tests” to identify the washer’s location.

Visit for more information on this engaging activity.

3.  Identifying & Creating Patterns in Problem Solving

Pattern Cube. Students continue to make observations; this time they use a series of cubes which contain names, numbers and mathematical relationships to solve the question of what is on the unseen side of the cube. (Template cubes available at the web site provided). Students use observation, inference, and sheer imagination to develop relationships among evidence and problem solving. Students develop their own cube with embedded patterns to exchange with other groups to solve.