Writing Scientific Explanations


Science is at least in part an attempt to explain how the world works. As students of science it is important to learn how to write scientific explanations. Simple scientific explanations are the first step in building theories that model how the real world works.

Scientists collect information about the world and using what they know they try to explain how things work. Or, if they can, why they work the way they do. Using what you learn in science class you can learn to write correct scientific explanations. Given a situation to explain you use a three-step process to write a good explanation. First, you make a claim about the situation that you think is true. Next, you provide one or more pieces of evidence that can be used to support your claim. Finally, you show the reasoning that connects your claim with the evidence. In other words, you clarify the connection between your claim and the evidence.

Step One: Making a Claim

Step Two: Provide Evidence

Step Three: Provide Reasoning

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Scientific Explanation Scaffold

Make a Claim

Answer the question.

Provide One Piece of Evidence

Provide Another Piece of Evidence

Provide More Evidence

If you have more pieces of evidence
then include them here.

Restate Claim


Summarize the Evidence

Show the reasoning

Explain the difference between mass and weight.
Explain whether certain substances will float in water or mercury.
This page adapted from the work of Kate McNeil and Joe Krajcik at the University of Michigan Last updated: Sep 07, 2008       Home