Scientific Modeling

What is a scientific model?

  • Scientific models are tools or ideas used by scientists to explain patterns observed in the real world. These patterns or phenomena can be represented by drawings, graphs, equations, three dimensional structures, or explained in words.

  • How useful and credible scientific models are depends on how well they can be used to explain a phenomenon or make a prediction.

  • Scientific models are constantly used to ask questions about the world, and they are also constantly revised as scientific knowledge changes.

Student Activity Overview

During Lesson 4, students learn firsthand how scientists use data to create models. Our online graphing tool allows students to create a simple model that shows the relationships between precipitation and tree growth, and temperature and tree growth. Students enter tree growth data, which they collect during Lesson 3, into the graphing tool in order to create and format a scatterplot graph. Students can also insert a line-of-best-fit onto their scatterplots and print or download their final graphs. Students can personalize their graphs by formatting graph features including the graph title, axes labels, scatterplot color, and more.

Why is scientific modeling important?

  • Scientific modeling is used frequently at higher levels of education and in the professional world. CCMF provides a supportive introduction to modeling and lays a foundation for future skill development.

  • Scientific modeling develops critical thinking skills and helps students better analyze and interpret scientific data and information.

  • Having students use basic modeling software gives them insight on the work done by researchers, scientists, etc. This may pique interest in science careers.