Wonderings and Questions About Anchoring Phenomena

I wonder what question come to mind when a student sees the “energy stick” light up.


I wonder what a student thinks when he is able to give Wooly Willy hair or a beard.  What questions do students have when they are able to play with Newton’s Cradle in a small group? Do students wonder what makes one ball kicked in the kickball game go a long way once but just dribble the next time? I consider all these wonderings as I begin thinking about what makes a good anchoring phenomenon for a science unit or bundle. When I start thinking about this I automatically smile and think of my friend and colleague,Ted Willard .


Listen as he and others including me sing at #NSTA16.

A question I hear all the time now is where can I find lists or examples of anchoring phenomenon. I will share some of the resources that I know. But I’m not sure that we are asking  the right question or having the best wondering. I’m thinking the question about anchoring phenomena needs to be linked to the #NGSS standards so it should sound something like this “what might be a good anchoring phenomenon for Grade 5 Structures and Properties of Matter?” What could I use for an anchoring phenomenon that will intrigue first grade students and make them want to learn more about how sound can make matter vibrate, and vibrating matter can make sound ?


Maybe the question might be can you use this set up to make an ear guitar? I stray a bit.

My point is anchoring phenomenon are not meant to be stand alone, they are meant to be a tool to ignite students’ curiosity and compels them to dig in and investigate to make meaning and therefore meet the standards.  I’m going to share some resources for finding & determining the value of intriguing phenomenon once you identify what standard you are trying to address.

One is a site developed by T.J. McKenna http://www.ngssphenomena.com/. Here you will find many possibilities for anchoring phenomenon . Another site well worth your time is Qualities of Good Anchoring Phenomenon. You an also find some interesting potential phenomena at Tools for Ambitious Science Teaching  I have one more piece which I will attach to this post shortly .

Just make sure you are answering the best questions when you begin thinking about “anchoring phenomena”.

Time for me to think some more about phenomena and how we use them to help students make meaning of complex science ideas.


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