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Mystery Boxes



In this activity, students have to work out what is inside a set of sealed boxes, without opening them.

The boxes are an analogy for Science: scientists are unable to ‘open the box’ to find a definitive answer as to whether or not their ideas are correct. Instead they form theories based on evidence from their research, which are always open to further revision.

"You’ve just given me my lesson plan for my next OFSTED inspection!", KS3 and 4 teacher, Newcastle.

Using this activity

First you will need to make your own set of Mystery Boxes in preparation for this activity. Scroll down to download the the Make Your Own Mystery Boxes sheet for instructions.

Print off the At a Glance sheet which explains how to run the activity with your students.

Print copies of the Observation Sheet, one for each group of students.

(If you have problems downloading the pdf, right click on the link and use 'Save Target As...' or 'Save link as...'  to save the file to your pc.)

See the Mystery Boxes activity in action

This short video shows teachers and students using the activity in the classroom:


Want to find out more?

Watch scientists doing the Mystery Boxes activity and see how they talk about it as an analogy for how they work:

Make your own Mystery Boxes121.7Kb .pdf
Mystery Boxes At a Glance sheet832Kb .pdf
Mystery Boxes Observation sheet86.4Kb .pdf