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Making and Refining Predictions

When will the first Monarchs arrive in Mexico? When will the ice go out of the lake? When will spring arrive in Hoboken? Will the eagles follow the same routes they did last year?

As students track migrations and ponder the arrival of spring or fall, they are routinely asked (and eager!) to make and refine predictions (suggestions about what will happen in the future.) Predictions are more than just guesses; they are based on past knowledge and experiences and on current observations.

As students make and record predictions about events in Journey North, ask them to explain the thinking behind them. Students, by nature, are driven by wanting to "be right." Help them understand that scientific predictions are tentative and that they should be reviewed and revised as researchers gain new information (evidence). Pose these types of questions, as appropriate:

    Initial Predictions:
  • What do you predict will happen when ____?
  • When do you predict ____?
  • What reasons do you have for making that prediction?
  • What do you already know or what have you observed that led to your prediction?
  • What other predictions might be plausible?

    During a Migration or Seasonal Study:
  • Has your prediction changed? How? How does it compare with your original one?
  • What new information or observation caused you to revise it?
  • What additional information would give you more confidence in your prediction?

    Reflecting on a Study:
  • How did the outcome compare with your original prediction?
  • Did your predictions stay the same over time? Did your forecasting become more accurate? Less accurate? What do you think made the difference?
  • Why do you think the outcome was the same as/different than you predicted?
  • What types of information would have helped you more accurately predict?

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