The activity flow in the “Rock Cycle” WISE project, starts with a task in which students compare between two rocks (granite and ryolite), which seem very different. Additional information is then provided, about the rocks being comprised of the same building blocks (minerals). This usually creates a cognitive conflict – “How can the rocks look so different if they are made of the same building blocks?”. The flow continues with having students observe thin slides of the rocks under the microscope, to help them understand that both rocks are made of crystals, but that the granite crystals are much larger than the ryolite crystals. The flow then directs students to explore the conditions that affect crystal size, with a hands-on experiment, and eventually leads students to understand the different geologic process which created the rocks. At the end of the project students answer questions that they left unanswered in the beginning of the project.
The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
This cognitive conflict flow opens with evidence that contradicts the learner’s intuition (two rocks that looks very different, but are made of the same building blocks), and continues step by step to help learners accommodate scientific ideas that help solve the conflict. The idea is to create an intellectual interest in the contents, and thus develop curiosity and motivation of the learner.