Experimental data

Argumentation is present when carrying out all investigations and experiments.

On several occasion you need to justify your decision for example when designing the investigation, making predictions, interpreting data, supporting claims with evidence or when debating the conclusions of the investigation.  Very often the process of developing claims are ignored in the instructions.  Below are links to a number of ESTABLISH IBSE activities suitable for second-level students to encourage them to express their opinions, discuss results, justify evidence and conclusions. 


In groups, discuss what the evidence for the ideas are presented.  Use a table to sort the ideas and the evidences 

“How is the pulse and respiratory rate affected by different activities?” (from unit: Disability, Activity 2.9)Resources & Files

  • “A crime story - the case of Liam Johnson” (from unit: Exploring Holes, Activity 1.5)
  • “Recycling plastics” (from unit: Plastics and Plastic Waste, Activity 2.4)

Teachers’ Comments

These activities are suitable for group work.  For successful discussions, you will need to sure the following: activity is well planned, it has clear, explicit outcomes, has precise time limits, engages all students, has a clear concrete focus and leads to some other task.

If using “A crime story - the case of Liam Johnson” (from unit: Exploring Holes, activity 1.5), participants need to solve the crime and decide what test to carry out to find out:

  • Did Liam Johnson die from drowning in the sea?
  • Is there any evidence that the tea is contaminated with another substance?
  • Is there any evidence that the sugar is contaminated with another substance?


If using “Recycling plastics” (from unit: Plastics and Plastic Waste. activity 2.4), participants could be divided into 4 groups: Journalists, Detectives, Common citizens, Employees of a firm processing plastics.  The discussion could focus on the Recycling of plastics.

Once the ideas and evidence have been identified, participants must connect tools in table 2 with activity


Socio-scientific issues


The aim of this activity is to stimulate debating and argumentation skills through the analysis of a socio-scientific issue. 


Each group receive different newspaper articles related to nuclear power and they are asked to find arguments of different types before they make a decision. This can be done in different ways. Two examples of  group tasks are presented, A and B. Both tasks end with a reflection of how the arguments are used and try to develop principles for effective argumentation.

A: Representations

  • Information: (White) - considering purely what information is available, what are the facts.
  • Emotions (Red) - instinctive gut reaction or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification)
  • Bad points judgment (Black) - logic applied to identifying flaws or barriers, seeking mismatch
  • Good points judgment (Yellow) - logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony at the end.

B: Judgements

  • Ask each group to judge what type of arguments that are put forward in the text. Use colour pen and mark different types of argument: Scientific (red), Emotional (blue), Social (green), economical (yellow), Ethical (pink).

Resources & Files:

Discussion Topic: Should we build a (another) nuclear power plant in your country?

A list of alternative socio-scientific topics can be found here.


Teachers’ Comments

This activity is suitable for group-work and is a “thinking hats” activity.

It is possible to build up your own list of socio-scientific topics through activities, such as engaging in discussions with colleagues from the certain subjects/disciplines, reading daily newspapers and talking to students at the beginning of the school year (or surveying them), build up your own list of socio-scientific topics.  By regularly encouraging your students to take part in such discussions, they will learn how to justify their opinion, and point of view.

The topics that you gather may have global significance, such as GMOs or testing cosmetics/drugs on animals, or relate to issues that are important in particular country, as the choice of energy sources and utilization of the nuclear power.

Gender consideration

When selecting a socio-scientific topic, it is important that you consider whether it will be interesting for your students and, or to both sexes, but that this may not occur necessarily at the same time.

  • For example, "Chitosan - a fat-eater"  may be more interesting for girls whereas issues related to sustainable transport  - may be for boys.

The topics may also require adjustments depending on the school profile or special interests of particular group of students.  For example a debate on whether or not to vaccinate may be of particular interest for medical and pedagogical upper-secondary schools, whereas the issue of whether anabolic steroids are harmful or not maybe more appropriate for sports-focused schools and classes.