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Using Detective Fiction to Reinforce Problem Solving Strategies and the Scientific MethodbyElla Boyd
This unit, "Using Detective Fiction to Reinforce Problem Solving Strategies and the Scientific Method," is meant to be used in a middle school science classroom. It is a unit designed for integration of the science and language arts curricula. The focus for this particular unit is a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but greater participation from the language arts teacher would allow the use of a full novel. The unit will focus primarily on observation and inference skills, the basic kinds of skills needed for critical thinking in science. Science should be taught as a process, not memorization of facts, and the use of detective fiction will help to accomplish that goal. The classroom activities include a series of activities to practice observation skills, to practice making inferences, and then to apply those skills to solve a short mystery story. The difference between inductive and deductive reasoning is discussed, especially the way Sherlock Holmes uses those skills for solving crimes.
(Developed for General Science, grade 7; recommended for General Science, grades 6-8)