More Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning With Discrepant Events

by: Thomas O'Brien

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• What can a chocolate chip cookie tell us about the Earth’s resources and the importance of environmental conservation?
• How can a clear, colorless spray solution unveil a hidden message on a blank sign?

Author Thomas O’Brien uses these and 20 other inquiry-oriented discrepant events—hands-on explorations or demonstrations in which the outcomes are not what students expect—to challenge students’ preconceived ideas and urge them to critically examine the empirical evidence, draw logical inferences, and skeptically review their initial explanations with their peers. More Brain-Powered Science is the perfect dual-purpose activity book for grade 5–12 science teachers who aim to stimulate and motivate their students while expanding their own scientific understanding. Each activity will help bridge the gap between practice and theory for both students and teachers by relating conclusions to science concepts and pedagogical principles. Speaking directly to teachers, O’Brien writes:

"This book is based on the assumption that just as our students learn science by experiencing, thinking, writing, discussing, and doing phenomena-based science with peers, we need similar experiences to grow as teachers of science. ... Careerlong learning with and from our students and colleagues as we engage with them in interactive, participatory, experiential learning is the hallmark of highly qualified teachers who expect and obtain the MOST from themselves (minds-on science teaching) and their students."

The inquiry-based lessons and more than 80 related extension activities can serve as the framework for professional development collaborations or as a supplement to conventional preservice science teaching methods courses. Each chapter includes an introduction, an explanation of the science and science education concepts addressed, a materials list, teacher debriefing tools, safety notes, and additional internet resources. Whether used in conjunction with O’Brien’s previous book, Brain-Powered Science, or as an independent text, More Brain-Powered Science offers hours of interactive learning for teachers and students alike.

“I like the way this book has simple, inexpensive activities that lead the reader into understanding the bigger picture. This presentation is so unique that I do not think there is another book available that provides the same information in a better way. The resources he offers are a gold mine.”
—Janice Crowley, science department chair, Wichita (Kansas) Collegiate Upper School, and 2009 Siemens National AP Teacher of the Year

“The topics addressed in this volume take on some of the most pressing issues we face in science education and do so in a very approachable way. I see the author’s first volume as a great entrance to the discussion and use of this approach and this volume as a huge step into advanced applications.”

—Michael Jabot, professor of science education, State University of New York at Fredonia College of Education

Download a sample chapter

Grade Levels

Elementary High School Middle School


General Science Informal Education


Type NSTA Press BookPub Date 3/1/2011ISBN 978-1-936137-18-3Stock # PB271X2

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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