Investigating Social Change | Hiking the Appalachian Trail
The Egg-Drop Experiment | Mission to Mars | Literacy Skills & Reciprocal Teaching
Background on Inquiry
- the identification of problems and solutions, and the
testing of these solutions
- the students' own design of procedures and data
- formulation of new questions based on previous claims
- the development of questions based on prior knowledge
- the linking of experiences and activities, science
concepts, and science principles
- the sharing and discussing of procedures, products,
Engaging in Inquiry
Children should experience science by engaging in
inquiry that shares commonalities with the
activities of scientists in these five aspects:
1. Participants learn in contexts constituted
in part by ill-defined problems.
2. Participants experience uncertainties, ambiguities,
and the social nature of scientific work and knowledge.
3. Participants learning is predicated on and driven by
their current knowledge state.
4. Participants experience themselves as part of
communities of inquiry in which knowledge, practices,
resources, and language are shared.
5. In these communities, members can draw on the
expertise of more knowledgeable others, whether they are
peers or advisors.
When the adjectives "open-inquiry" and "authentic" are
employed, they refer to the above five aspects in which the
learning environment overlaps with the scientific world.
Challenges facing educators today include how to:
- clarify the role of the laboratory or investigative
activity in developing scientific inquiry skills
- determine the value that the laboratory has in
developing an understanding of learning.
One of the things we have learned about laboratory
instruction over the years is that it is easy to
overestimate the ability of students, on their own, to
derive meaning from the empirical world.
This does not mean that students should be denied all
practice in trying to solve scientific problems as a
scientist would do, although it does suggest that the method
should be used sparingly, within the context of a reasonably
well-understood body of concepts, and not as the primary
means of acquiring knowledge or skill.
Back to Project 3: The Egg-Drop Experiment