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The Interactions unit as a whole is designed to supports high school students in using three-dimensional learning to make sense of phenomena and solve problems by evaluating their own ideas. Students conduct investigations, collect evidence, and use the evidence to evaluate claims. In response, the teacher’s role shifts away from providing information and toward guiding students as they learn to use evidence to support and their ideas about the phenomenon or problem. The curriculum is designed to give teachers frequent insight into their students’ progress so they have the information they need to provide this guidance.

Here, we discuss one activity from Investigation 3 in Unit 1. The four activities in Investigation 3 are all tied to the driving question: What are all materials made of? In Activity 2, examined here, students observe a surprising phenomenon when they make three combinations of substances. When they combine water with water and ethanol with ethanol, the substances increase in volume by a predictable amount. But when they combine ethanol with water, the volume increase is smaller than expected. Students develop, evaluate, and refine a model to explain this phenomenon.

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