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Mystery box puzzle for model based reasoning

Author(s): Sam S Donovan1, Pravin Muthu2

1. University of Pittsburgh 2. Emory University

218 total view(s), 62 download(s)

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This is a computer based problem solving activity that I use to engage introductory biology students with discussions about model based reasoning.


The mystery box puzzle presents students with a relatively straight forward logic problem - if they can understand and use the model to explore how the mystery box behaves. The assignment shared here was done in small groups during a 50 minute class session. I have included a series of teaching notes and suggestions. I believe that this tool could be used to teach a variety of process of science topics. 

Launch Mystery Box


This is the version I have taught for several years in a large introductory biology course. 

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    Sam S Donovan @ on

    Please don't hesitate to ask a question or make a suggestion about this activity here in the comments. I'd be happy to respond. 

    I'll be sharing this as part of a workshop at NABT in November 2021 and I hope to add some additional introductory material to make it easier for others to use. 

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