Teaching Science using Phenomena


Teaching Science using Phenomena: A Mini-Course for Educators

Ashley's Portfolio Page | ETAP 623 Spring 2022 (Byrne)


What will you learn in this course?

Have you ever wondered how hurricanes are formed, what exactly lightning is or why the Northern Lights can only be seen at high-latitude regions? Although you may know the answers to these questions, these are the kinds of things that our students are curious about.

Through this course, you will learn how to engage your students intrinsically using science phenomena. You will research phenomena that is specific to the subject you teach and you will analyze and create lessons that use a phenomenon to engage the students.


-Definition of phenomenon-based science

-Benefits and challenges of teaching and learning through Phenomena

-Examples of phenomena that can be used in the science classroom

-Examples of phenomena specific to the science that you teach


This course will take you through the following lessons:

Lesson 1: What is Phenomenon-Based Science?

Lesson Objective:

  • Students will research phenomenon-based science, including lessons and topics and participate in discussion with peers to define phenomenon-based science and make connections to prior knowledge and experiences.

In this lesson you will:

  • Research phenomenon-based science
  • Research examples of phenomenon-based science lessons and topics
  • Participate in discussion to define phenomenon-based science and reflect on personal experiences with teaching and learning with phenomena.

Lesson 2: Why Should we use Phenomena to Teach Science?

Lesson Objective: Students will research benefits, challenges, and examples of phenomenon-based science and participate in discussion

In this lesson, you will:

  • Research the benefits of teaching and learning through phenomenon-based science
  • Watch and analyze a phenomenon-based science lesson
  • Participate in discussion to describe the benefits and challenges of using phenomena in a science lesson and provide an analysis of the science lesson video, identifying the phenomena, and describing the way that the phenomena engages students intrinsically

Lesson 3: What phenomena can I use in my classroom?

Lesson objectives:

In this lesson, you will:

  • Research phenomena by specific science topic
  • Choose a phenomenon and connect the phenomenon to NGSS science standards
  • Add at least three phenomena to a "master list" of phenomena developed by students by subject

Lesson 4: How to implement Phenomenon-Based Science into your Classroom

Lesson Objectives:

In this lesson, you will:

  • Develop a lesson plan that uses phenomenon-based teaching and learning to engage students in their specific science subject
  • Participate in discussion to reflect on their learnings in the mini-course, stating how it has improved their understanding of teaching and learning science using phenomena


Begin your learning with Lesson 1: What is Phenomenon-Based Science?

Lesson 2: Why Should we use Phenomena to Teach Science?

Lesson 3: What phenomena can I use in my classroom?

Lesson 4: How to implement Phenomenon-Based Science into your Classroom

Ashley's Portfolio Page

References and Resources

American Psychological Association, Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education. (2015). Top 20 principles from psychology for preK–12 teaching and learning. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ed/schools/cpse/top-twenty-principles.pdf

Anderson, Paul. “Scientific Phenomenon and Sensemaking.” YouTube, Bozeman Science, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ps3Js-psgo.

Bobrowsky. (2018). Q: How Can I Make Science Fun and Have Students Learn More By Using Phenomenon-Based Learning?(SCIENCE 101 BACKGROUND BOOSTERS FOR ELEMENTARY TEACHERS). Science and Children, 56(2), 70–73.

Cian, Marshall, J., & Cook, M. (2019). Formatively Assessing NGSS: Three models of formative assessment for addressing NGSS domains. The Science Teacher (National Science Teachers Association), 86(6), 44–49

Deverel-Rico, C., & Heredia, S. C. (2018). THE NGSS-IFICATION OF TOO SLOW TO NOTICE: How to Turn Any Unit Into a Phenomena-Based, Student-Driven Investigation. Science Scope, 41(6), 45+. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A526441714/AONE?u=albanyu&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=f1dc333e

Esref, & Cevat, E. (2021). The effect of phenomenon-based learning approach on students metacognitive awareness. Educational Research and Reviews, 16(5), 181–188. https://doi.org/10.5897/ERR2021.4139

Larson, M. B. and Lockee, B. B. (2020) Streamlined ID: A Practical Guide to Instructional Design. New York, NY: Routledge. (our TEXT)

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Phenomenon. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phenomenon

Penuel, Turner, M. L., Jacobs, J. K., Horne, K., & Sumner, T. (2019). Developing tasks to assess phenomenon‐based science learning: Challenges and lessons learned from building proximal transfer tasks. Science Education (Salem, Mass.), 103(6), 1367–1395.

Roadmap and implementation timeline. http://www.nysed.gov/curriculum-instruction/next-generation-learning-standards-and-assessment-implementation-timeline

“Scientific Phenomenon and Sensemaking.” YouTube, The MindFuel Foundation | Youth STEM Innovation, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWqg2d_kK8w.

Turner. (2020). Phenomenon Templates Using Science and Engineering Practices in a Digital Inquiry-Based Classroom. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.