Develop and use models
A scientific model can be made to represent a system the student is trying to better understand. Models can take a variety of forms, like physical recreations, simulations, diagrams, flow charts, mathematical processes, etc. (Ex: a mock-up of a boat’s rudder system or a computer simulation showing the relationship of different wildlife populations). They are not an exact representation of conditions in the real world, but they are helpful tool in that they allow the student to focus on certain aspects of their topic. It is important for the student to recognize the limitations of their models.
While models are not science projects on their own, they can be a helpful tool while students conduct their projects to assist in the development of predictions or brainstorm solutions. They can also be used to collect data or communicate ideas.
Models or prototypes should be refined through iterations as students compare their predictions with the real world and then adjust them to gain insights into the phenomenon being studied. When new evidence is uncovered that the models can’t explain, models are adjusted. In engineering, models may be used to analyze a system to see where or under what conditions flaws might develop, or test possible solutions to a problem. Models can also be used to visualize and refine a design, to communicate a design’s features to others, and as prototypes for testing design performance.