New Text Supplement
Teaching the Nature of Science
Reflecting the ENSI Approach

Science Surprises:
Exploring the Nature of Science

This text supplement is available as an eBook at Smashwords (see below). If you're looking for a unit to effectively teach the nature of science (NOS), with lessons for practicing scientific argumentation, critical and skeptical thinking, THIS IS IT!

This new text supplement is intended for students in any science class, grades 7-10. It can replace (or supplement) the usual Ch.1 in any secondary science textbook with an updated and more accurate treatment of how science works, what it can and cannot do, and why it's so effective for increasing our understanding of the natural world. The book particularly addresses the many misconceptions about NOS, e.g., the myth of the "Scientific Method." [Read the short passage about this being a myth, from the Framework for K-12 Science Education, p. 78 (NRC 2012)].It also satisfies virtually ALL of the new NOS standards (in NGSS and Common Core).

Many teachers just assume that students will “absorb” NOS by “osmosis” while doing hands-on investigations - but current research shows that very little, if any, is learned and retained that way. In fact, the research tells us clearly that NOS must be taught explicitly, like any other basic subject content in science [see research paper summary on this]. It must be explicit, and integrated throughout your course if you expect the concepts to be understood and retained.

Unfortunately, NGSS does not clearly point that out, nor do they include many of their Learning Objectives (LOs) in the Performance Expectations (PEs) for their Disciplinary Core Idea pages (DCIs). But read Appendix H in the NGSS for teaching NOS, and you'll see, in the two-page matrices there, that 26 LOs are listed for middle school, and 32 LOs are listed for high school. On the DCIs for Life Science, only 5 of those middle school LOs are included, and only 7 are included for high school. And none of them are in the PE section where they're most likely to be seen (and therefore taught! Using Science Surprises will assure that your students will meet virtually all of the NGSS for NOS. What's especially sad is that science textbooks will probably continue to ignore those very important NOS misconceptions, perpetuating the extensive science illiteracy in the USA.

Science Surprises is designed to be tightly integrated with several of the free student-centered, interactive NOS lessons on the ENSI site. Teaching strategies are based on research pointing to those that are most effective, e.g., the 5-E Learning Cycle approach, student interactive discussion, and teaching NOS explicitly.

Pre-publication versions of Science Surprises have been peer-reviewed, and field-tested (by 4 middle school and 4 high school science teachers across the country and in urban, suburban and rural schools). Positive results of that testing have been applied to the current published version. Every paragraph of the text proper is adjusted to 8th grade reading level. With some scaffolding and adaptations, this unit could be effectively used in any secondary science course, grades 6-12.

There is also a comprehensive 127 page guidebook (TEACH) to help you do this most effectively. You can get TEACH from author (and ENSI webmaster) Larry Flammer. It has been free for some time, but now an updated version is for sale as an eBook. To get it, send an email message using your school email address. Give your name, subjects and grade level in which you want to use the material, the name and address of your school (including city and state), and the school phone number. This is a" For Teachers Only" book, priced rather high to discouarge others, but available to teachers at a considerable 16% discount if they request the discount Coupon Code from the author, providing the above information. When you get the Coupon Code, you should order the PDF version (primarily for use on laptop or desktop computers) as there are a number of 8.5x11 pages you will want to copy diretly as master sheets for running off handouts for students. If you also want a version in Word (.doc or .docx) for easier modifying of certain items, just send the Coupon Code you got to the author requesting same. No extra charge.

The TEACH guidebook includes worksheets, additional activities and information, suggested unit schedules, how new science standards are met, assessment materials, and many useful strategies to effectively implement the Science Surprises NOS materials. If you don't have the time to do the complete book in your introductory unit, just do the first 2-3 chapters, and insert the remaining chapters later in your course (preferably before dealing with any topic that may be considered “controversial,” e.g., climate change or evolution).

If you like what you see in the Science Surprises materials, please pass the word along to your colleagues and science teacher organizations that might be interested in using the materials. Share it at conferences and workshops. Contact the author for handout materials to distribute at such occasions.

When you have some time to sample Science Surprises, especially after you use it with your classes, please let the author know what you think. In fact, it would be very much appreciated if you would write a brief review of the book (and the unit), and post it as a REVIEW on the Smashwords site (or other venues). If you have any constructive suggestions (e.g., corrections, changes or additions), please let the author know directly by email. A nice feature about eBooks is that they can be easily modified and new editions uploaded.

The Science Surprises student eBook is currently available for $3.99 from Smashwords (see below). Suggestions for how to make this eBook available to your students, in your classroom and at their homes, are in the TEACH guidebook (see TEACH pages 6-7). The author can arrange to provide a group discount “Coupon Code” for all of your students so it would only cost them (or your school budget) $0.99 each. There is also a printed version of Science Surprises available (contact the author). But they could cost about $10-$25 each (depending on the total number needed and shipping costs). They are 8.5 x 11", spiral bound, with durable covers and pages with colored illustrations.

These Science Surprises (SS) materials were developed by the ENSI/SENSI webmaster to facilitate the efficient classroom use of ENSI/SENSI NOS lessons. They were published by the author’s publishing company, ENSIWEB, LLC, and the eBooks are distributed by Smashwords. Those SS materials coordinate and enhance the effective presentation of selected NOS lessons, following research-supported pedagogy. They clarify and reinforce the concepts introduced by those NOS lessons on the ENSI/SENSI website. They show how using the SS materials with selected lessons meet all the new science standards (NGSS) for the NOS concepts. Information for obtaining those SS materials is provided on the ENSI/SENSI website as a convenience for educators to obtain and try them in their classrooms.

ENSIWEB, LLC is not affiliated with Indiana University, its faculty, its servers or the ENSI/SENSI website: <>. Science Surprises: Exploring the Nature of Science (as an eBook and a printed book) and the Science Surprises Teaching Guide are not required for freely using the nature of science (NOS) lessons on the ENSI/SENSI website.


You can sample and/or purchase the student eBook at
The eBook is available for download in the following formats:
EPUB: to your desktop/laptop computer, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch.
(You may need to download the free Adobe Digital Editions, for desktop and laptop computers, to read this eBook).

For Android devices, download Aldiko, a free reading app.

(for Kindle). You may need to download Kindle for PC (reads .mobi), Kindle for Mac (reads .mobi) or the popular FBReader (reads .epub, .txt, .mobi and multiple other formats). IF these don't work, download the PDF version.

and RTF formats should be directly readable on your desktop or laptop computer, or tablet

format can be read via your Web browser on your PC or tablet.
Smashword eBooks are also readable in Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Let the author know if you have any problems downloading the entire book, or accessing the sampling of Science Surprises. For the sample, you should be able to read the first chapter.


Click here for a review of Douglas Allchin’s book: Teaching the Nature of Science: Perspectives & Resources. These materials nicely extend the Science Surprises NOS focus (or theme) throughout your course. Allchin explains and provides examples and resources for using authentic science historical narratives to effectively engage students. Strategies are easily applicable throughout your course.

All of the ENSI lessons are designed to engage students with active learning. iBiology tutorials (free online) will help you to learn this most effective teaching skill. So, click here for these excellent interactive tutorial video clips for teaching with student-centered interactive materials. For example, the tips and strategies for using Think-Pair-Share (TPS) are helpfully demonstrated.