Observation vs Inference

Last week, we had wonderful moments in the World of Inquiry School. We got the some animals’ skulls and we had an opportunity to look at them closely. Actually, I had no idea about what animals they were because it was the first time I could touch a skull. We tried to guess by looking at their specialties like size, shape, front teeth, etc.

One point we missed that they got teeth that their shapes were the biggest clue for the guess because teeth are changing according to the animals’ diet. Our skulls’ teeth were like choppers so it was a herbivore. The other clue was that its’ size so it should belong to a small animal. Next, we look at other specialties like flat head. Then, yes! It was a little muskrat!!

What is the Scientific Inquiry?

Lederman and Lederman (2012) define the scientific inquiry (SI) as methodical skills to find answers to scientists’ questions; these are observing, inferring, classifying, predicting, measuring, questioning, interpreting, and analyzing data. With this activity, we could try to find the answer with scientific inquiry.

These terms look like too similar to each other. For example, are observing and inferring the same? We looked at the same skulls and tried to predict what they were. Observation and inference sometimes thought as the same but, no, they are not the same. Lederman and Lederman (2012) also mention that there is a distinction between observation and inference. The Observation is the general overview about the undefined things with our sense. On the other hand, the inference is giving meaning to what we observe with our senses. For that reason, we were all looked at the same skull but we could say different animals’ names. There were many animals names raised but the winner was a muskrat.


Lederman, N. G., & Lederman, J. S. (2012). Nature of scientific knowledge and scientific inquiry: Building instructional capacity through professional development. In B. J. Fraser, G. Tobin, K, & C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second International Handbook of Science Education (pp. 335–359). Londo. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9041-7

Curiosity is the Keyword

Everyone has a curiosity about everything. Of course, it changes to the personality but the interesting point is that the kids’ curiosity is very special from ours. They can ask many many questions about everything. ‘Why our brains are in our head?’, ‘Why people have 2 legs instead of 4?’, ‘why my daddy is taller than my mom? (really, why?!). Sometimes, the answers are not easy, you have to think like a kid and answer with clear explanations.

I got two little kids at home, my son is 5, my daughter is 3. We got many many questions every day. For example, yesterday, my daughter was cutting the papers with the scissors. Of course, I warned her like every mom, ‘Be careful! You may hurt your fingers.’. Then, she asked me ‘What happens if I cut my fingers? What can I do or not without my fingers?’ That was our yesterday’s topic. ‘Mom, I could not open the box, I could not eat, I could not draw a picture, I could not go to the school (yes, you can!).



My kids were exploring the Rochester Museum & Science Center


In this week, I read a paper of National Research Council. According to NRC (2012), the kids, especially kindergarten level kids’ the way of thinking about the world is greater than the expectations. I really believe that claim because I am testing every day. They can ready to learn the world by observing, inferring, testing with their imagination and creativity. They have a real curiosity about everything. I believe that the curiosity is the keyword to their world. By this way, they are acting like a scientist which most of us lost that special ability.

In the same reading, it is suggested that keep the kids ask a question! It is really important for keeping alive such special abilities before losing them. We need to encourage them asking questions and patiently answer them as much as possible. If you can not, you can search with them. You will see how enjoyable learning with kids…





National Research Council. (2012). Guiding assumptions and organization of the framework. In A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (pp. 23–37). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/13165