4th Grade - Testing Hypotheses

Reading and Comprehension
Testing hypotheses
Evaluate new information and hypotheses by testing them against known information and ideas.
The ability to evaluate and synthesize information by testing proposed or derived hypotheses against proven factual ideas.

Sample Problems


What is a hypothesis? (supposition, theory, premise, suggestion, belief, assumption, guess, etc.)


What is information? (knowledge, gathered facts, details, etc.)


What are ideas? (thoughts, dreams, opinions, proven facts, etc.)


What do you do when you evaluate information? (understand, judge with criteria, assess, etc.)


What is relativity? (dependence on factors that vary, or change, according to context)

Learning Tips


Try to predict the weather based on the recent weather patterns reported. You can use www.weatherchannel.com to get information. Use the facts as well as your prior knowledge of your area and the seasons, etc. to forecast what the weather will be for the week. How close is your forecast to the actual weather?


KWL charts are great for recording information and tracking ideas to be able to evaluate them. Before beginning a topic of study, write down your initial observations, ideas, and details you know in the first column. But be sure to only write down the facts you are sure you know, not your opinions. The second column is for questions and concerns you have about the topic – what are you curious about? The last column is to be filled out after you finish the study of the topic. Write key details that you learned and see how the entire chart compares in the different stages and gives you information.

What We Know (K)

What We Want to Know (W)

What We Learned (L)


Experience the excitement of predicting by completing a simple task. Make a prediction about something that could possibly happen tomorrow (e.g., the weather, what exact time the ice cream truck will drive by, how many times the phone will ring, etc.) based on your prior knowledge, and seal it in an envelope – no peeking at each other’s! At the end of the next day, see whose prediction was closer! You could also do this looking ahead to next week, or next month if you can wait!


Brainstorm as many historical beliefs that have changed over time as possible. For example, before Columbus, people believed the world was flat and you would fall off the edge if you sailed too far. Also, humans used to believe in geocentrism – that the earth was the center of the universe until Copernicus modeled heliocentrism, with the sun as the center, and Kepler and Galileo later confirmed his hypothesis. Scientists, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, etc. are all field that regularly suppose hypotheses and research to prove them.


Discuss the importance of testing current beliefs to further and better our understanding of the world. However, there is also a point when technology might cross not only un-chartered, but unsafe, boundaries. Have a mini-debate about current events that are “hot topics.” For example, not long ago the idea of cloning was unheard of – now we have cloned animals – what is the boiling point of this technology? Should humans be cloned? The belief of global warming is still to some, a hypothesis – what evidence is there on each side of this issue? In light of the Olympics, the issue of genetic enhancements will continue to become a difficult challenge for fair games – what should be allowed?

Extra Help Problems


What are of examples of things that are relative? (time, space, numbers – they mean different things in different contexts)


What graphic organizer is helpful for tracking and evaluating ideas? (KWL – what we Know, What we Want to know, and what we Learned)


Are hypotheses always real facts “carved in stone”? (no – hypotheses are supposed to be true, or beliefs that can change with more evidence and proof)


Have people’s perceptions or hypotheses about the world changed over time? (yes!)


What is evidence? (proof, substantial facts to support an idea)


Why is evidence necessary to support hypotheses and series? (in order for people to believe hypotheses, there should be substantial evidence with lots of details that make a clear picture, model, description, etc. of the hypothesis)


How can hypotheses be created? (using prior knowledge combined with new knowledge)


What is an experiment? (a trial, test, research, etc.)


How can hypotheses be derived through experiments? (you have to test things over and over in order to prove that they can happen or work)


What are some job fields that commonly make and test hypotheses? (scientists, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, etc.)


What is a theory? (a proven hypothesis or set of hypotheses supported by many facts and details as evidence)


What is the difference between a hypothesis and theory? (hypotheses can be made anytime, anywhere, by anyone while theory is a wealth of knowledge rooted in factual evidence, proven by researchers over time)


When can a hypothesis be turned into a theory, or proven? (when there is enough evidence agreed upon by several experts)


What are examples of theories? (global warming, relativity, gravity, Newton’s law of motion, etc.)


What are laws in this context? (long ago when the laws of gravity, motion, balance, inertia, etc. were developed they were called laws, because the scientists were sure of them; however, perspectives in science sometimes change when new information is presented, so these “laws” are more like theories, they still have missing pieces and unknown variables)


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