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Discrepant Events Research
Discrepant Events Research
LEGO Timeline
LEGO Story
A LEGO Lesson
Evaporation Activity
Condensation Activity
Raindrop Activity
Mass/Weight Misconception
Dissolving Misconception
Living Things Misconception
Air/Oxygen Misconception
Planetary Orbit Misconception
Surface Tension Demonstration
Air Pressure Paradox
Iodine/Starch Paradox
Air Pressure Paradox
Daytime Star Paradox
Mouse Simile
Rabbit Simile
Giraffe Simile
Bear Simile
Air Speed/Flight Demonstration
Cohesion Demonstration
Optical Illusion Demonstration
Lightning Demonstration
Twinkling Star Demonstration
Density Paradox

Laurie Graba


Discrepant Events:  What Happens to Those Who Watch




A discrepant event is an experience in which the outcome does not match the expectation of the event.  A discrepant event is an excellent way to capture children’s attention and motivate them to engage in scientific thought.  It is an attention getting technique designed to reach all children in the class regardless of their current ability and interest level in the topic.


The use of discrepant events correlates with the ideas of Piaget.  Children will first try to apply what they already to know to explain the situation, but in this case that will not work.  The event will place them into a state of disequilibrium where they will have to search for understanding and modify their current thought process by assimilating the new information and then accommodating it.  Once they have been able to accommodate the new information, mental growth has occurred. 


As we know, the outcome of the discrepant event does not match what was expected to happen.  When this surprise outcome occurs children are going to be naturally curious as to what caused the outcome to be different. The unexpected outcome will motivate and challenge the children to carefully observe the situation, ask further questions, gather additional data, and create predictions as to the cause of the event.  This will in turn assist the child in further developing good problem solving and analytical skills.  The discrepant event will also set the stage for the class to develop their questioning skills.  The teacher may coach them and help them formulate meaningful questions to help them to better understand the concept.  Appropriate and meaningful questions will assist them when formulating their explanation of the discrepant event. 

Written By:  Cathy L. Thompson