What are Phenomena?

There might not be another word that is more integral to the enactment of Iowa’s Science Standards than “phenomena”. Across their kindergarten through twelfth-grade science careers, students are asked to engage with phenomena in a variety of ways: observe, explain, describe, model, predict, analyze, and test. But what are phenomena?

“Phenomena are observable events that occur in the universe and that we can use our science knowledge to explain or predict. The goal of building knowledge in science is to develop general ideas, based on evidence, that can explain and predict phenomena.” (Using Phenomena in NGSS). In a classroom this might look like students trying to figure out how ocean fossils came to be at the top of a mountain, trying to explain the cause of a person’s health symptoms, and modeling how a sound could make something at a distance move.

Embedding phenomena into instruction is vital for student engagement and learning. Educators can find vetted, quality instructional materials that include phenomena on the NextGenScience website. In addition, a database of Iowa-specific phenomena has been curated for educators on the Iowa Science Phenomena website.

For questions about phenomena, how to embed them into instruction, or for more resources to support this work, please contact Tammy Askeland-Nagle (taskeland-nagle@mbaea.org).