Exciting Examples of Everyday Phenomena

Exciting examples of everyday phenomena (EEEP) is a science demonstration. This active teaching tool is designed to gain students' attention by piquing their curiosity. Dr. Hassard first coined the term after having read an article about the importance of linking science concepts to students everyday experiences. EEEPs closely resemble discrepant events.

Discrepant events are based on Leon Festinger's Theory of Cognitive Dissonance whose two basic hypothesis are:
   1.  The existence of dissonance being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce
        the dissonance and achieve consonance;
   2.  When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and
        information which would likely increase the dissonance.
A discrepant event can be a teacher demonstration or student performed activity that motivates the learner by creating a want to know. The learner becomes curious and demonstrates a strong desire to resolve the unexpected.
The key difference between EEEPs and discrepant events is finding phenomena that relate to students "real" world or everyday experiences.

EEEPs and Discrepant Events Learning Process
Frederic Vester described several conditions that have to be met in order for new information to enter our permanent memory bank. The most essential components of a process of information are
   a.  Develop interest and arouse curiosity
   b.  Use simple materials
   c.  Use as many gateways as possible
   d.  Hinge it with examples and put it in context
   e.  Tie it all together with joy and enthusiasm

Using EEEPs and Discrepant Events in science lessons
Science inquiry is an important goal of science teaching and a fundamental purpose of the science curriculum. EEEPs are a tool designed to help students inquire into questions, phenomena and ideas. First, a good EEEP creates looks of surprise fostering an environment of excitement by promoting students to say "How did that happen?" and "What caused that?" or "I didn't predict that!"

EEEPs can be used in a number of science teaching situations. Some ideas include:

  • Introducing a new topic. EEEPs help to establish interest and gives an idea of what is to come
  • Pre-assessing student's prior knowledge. EEEPs can be used to have students express their ideas about a topic prior to the lesson and gives students an opportunity to listen to each others' views
  • Testing students ability to
    • predict
    • brainstorm alternative ideas
    • make observations
    • hypothesize
    • work cooperatively
  • Assessing student performance


Dr. Hassard designed a generic EEEP sheet that can be given to each group of students for recording ideas they generate. Students can make predictions, record observations, draw pictures, or write a summary of their explanation. EEEP sheets become a powerful learning tool when instruction is linked to assessment. An example of a rubric that can be used to assess student EEEP sheets that are collected is also provided.

EEEP Activity Sheet



Prediction: What do you think will happen?



Observation and data: What did you observe?



Explanation: Describe what you think happened in words and pictures.



Extension: Write down at least one follow-up question you have about the event.



Acknowledgement: Team Sign-off

          _________________________                    _________________________          

          _________________________                    _________________________  


EEEP Activity Rubric



Prediction Group makes a prediction supported with logical reasoning.
Observation and Data Group collects accurate and detailed observations organized in a table.
Explanation Group gives a logical explanation supported with reasons.
Extension Group provides a testable follow-up question.
Acknowledgement Group arrives at a consensus without conflict by debating not arguing.


Earth Science EEEPs

Earth Science EEEP 1


The Punctured Can

Puncture three holes at different heights in a large juice can, or a 2 Liter plastic bottle. Set the container in a large pan to catch the water when it pours out. Cover each hole with a piece of plastic tape. Now fill the container with water. Ask the students to predict what will happen if the plastic tape is removed from each hole. Students should be encouraged to draw a diagram illustrating their prediction. Now remove the pieces of tape (very quickly), and have the students observe. Invite the students to explain their observations by comparing their prediction to what they observed. Concepts: pressure, water pressure.


Earth Science EEEP 2


The Foggy Cloud

Fill a flask with hot water. Pour out most of the water, leaving about an inch of it. Sit the bottle in bright light. Hold an ice cube over the opening. Ask the students to predict what they think will happen. After water vapor becomes visible, invite the students to explain what happened. Some questions: Where did the water vapor come from? What cooled the water vapor? What is water vapor?


Earth Science EEEP 3


The Mini-Telescope

Show the students two lenses. (Hand lenses will work just fine.) Invite the students to use the lenses in combination to enable them to see distance objects (a picture or chart on a wall of the classroom). The first challenge is for the students to figure out how to hold the lenses in relationship to each other. (Hint for the teacher: hold one lens up to one of your eyes; hold the other at arms length in front of the lens to your eye. Move the lens at arms length toward and away from the eyepiece until objects are focused.) Students will also notice that the images they see is up-side-down. Invite them to illustrate their explanation of this phenomena.


Life Science EEEPs

Life Science EEEP 1


The Penny and a Glass of Water

Present a full glass of water to the students. Ask them to predict how many pennies can be carefully dropped into the full glass of water. Note the students' predictions. If you want to take some extra time, have teams of students work together to talk through their predictions. In front of the entire class, drop one penny at a time into the glass of water. (Note: If you hold the penny so it slides into the water vertically, as opposed to on one of its sides, then you ought to be able to drop between 20 - 50 pennies in a full glass of water.) Invite the students to work in small teams to illustrate and describe in words their explanation of this EEEP. Concepts: surface tension, cohesion property of water

Life Science EEEP 1


The Case of the Mealworms

Show the diagram of the mealworms to the students, and while doing that, read this scenario to them: "An experimenter wanted to test the response of mealworms to light and moisture. To do this, she set up four boxes as shown here. She used lamps for light sources and constantly watered pieces of paper in the boxes for moisture. In the center of each box she placed 20 mealworms. One day she returned to count the number of mealworms that had crawled to the different ends of the boxes. Invite the students to consider this proposal:

The diagrams show that mealworms respond to (respond means move away or toward): A). Light but not moisture; B). Moisture but not light; C). Both light and moisture; D). Neither light nor moisture. Please explain your choice. Note: have students work in groups of two, and have them write their response in their own science log. Here is one student's response: "Boxes I and II show they prefer dry and light to wet and dark. Box IV eliminates dryness as a factor, so they do respond to light only. Box III shows that wetness cancels the effect of the light, so it seem they prefer dry. It would be clearer is one of the boxes was wet-dry with no light.

Life Science EEEP 2


Gravity and Plant Growth

Show students various plants that you have had growing in your classroom (e.g. in advance, have plants growing in various situations---a pot on its side, a pot hanging upside-down, etc. Invite students to speculate on the relationship between plant growth and the force of gravity. Does gravity affect plant growth? Have students talk about designing an experiment that could find an answer to this question.

Physical Science EEEPs

Physical Science EEEP 1


Electric Balloons

You'll need a few balloons and string for this EEEP. Inflate two balloons and tie about 50 cm of string to each. Rub the balloon briskly against a piece of wool fabric. Bring the balloon up to a wall in the room and let go. The balloon should stick to the wall. Take the second balloon and rub it briskly with the piece of wool. Hold both balloons close together. This time the balloons will move apart from each other. In teams, invite students to explain each demonstration. They should draw diagrams and use words to help explain their ideas---use an EEEP sheet for each team. Concepts: static electricity, charged particles.

Physical Science EEEP 2


The Egg and the Bottle

Present the students with a problem. Place a peeled hard-boiled egg in the mouth of bottle. The problem: How can you get the peeled hard-boiled egg in the bottle without touching the egg? Have students work in teams and propose a methodology. In order to test their method, they must present to you a written details of the procedure. (Note: you should have plenty of hard-boiled eggs available---students can peel them, glass jars, matches, etc.). Concepts: air pressure, molecular model of matter.

Physical Science EEEP 3


The Coin Drop and Throw

Place one coin (a quarter) on the edge of a table, and another quarter in your hand at the edge of the table. Tell the students that At the same instance, you will flick the coin on the table outward horizontally with your finger while at the same time dropping the other coin straight down. Ask them to speculate which coin will hit the floor first. After groups come up with their own ideas, provide the coins for them to test out their ideas. (Note: in most cases, both coins will hit the floor at the same time.) Invite students to explain the result. Concepts: gravity, Newton's laws of motion.



Hanna, N.R. (1999). EEEPS: Exciting examples of everyday phenomena. Retrieved June 9, 2007 from http://www2.gsu.edu/~mstjrh/eeep.html.

Hassard, J. (2005). The Art of Teaching Science. New York, Oxford University Press.

Liem, T.L. (1992). Invitations to Science Inquiry. California, Science Inquiry Enterprises.



Last updated on June 10, 2007 2002