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Infer or Not To Infer

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 challenging words: extrapolate, inferential, interpolate, observation, absolute, judgments, based, everyday, leads, scientist, infer, rate, present, increase, invade, decrease

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 Infer or Not To Infer By Trista L. Pollard

1     Everyday we make judgments based on our observations. Your friend's dog may not like you because every time you go to pet the dog it growls. When your teacher hands back your geography test, he smiles which makes you think that you did very well. When you step outside in the morning, you notice it is very cloudy. You have a feeling it will rain, so you decide to carry your umbrella in your backpack. You have used two very important science process skills used by all scientists. These skills are called inferring and predicting.

2     When scientists infer, they draw conclusions, interpret, and try to explain their observations. For example, if a scientist observes that Plant A has a higher rate of growth when it is placed on the counter than when it is on the window sill, the scientist might infer that this plant grows better in the shade than in the sun. Inferences can also be made from recorded data. One example would be when students examine results from an experiment on bounce height of three different types of balls. Students would examine the bounce height of ping-pong balls, marbles, and rubber balls. Based on the data, students could explain whether the height at which the balls were dropped would affect the height the ball would bounce. Scientists also make inferences from data that is received indirectly. There are many places scientists cannot visit due to safety or lack of access. When scientists study volcanoes, they use evidence from the area surrounding the volcano to make inferences about the qualities of materials inside the volcano. This type of inferential thinking also leads to another science process skill called prediction.

3     Inferring about scientific data also leads to predicting. Scientists use current observations about events to help forecast or make generalizations about future events. These predictions usually follow after numerous testing situations .....

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