of Inquiry-Based Investigations (
adapted from Zubrowski
- An Inquiry
investigation is based around a scientific( i.e., testable) without
a unique right answer, such as:
- What organisms
can be found within a one-meter square?
- What is the
distribution of tree species around Weston Middle School?
- What animal
organisms can be found in a hay infusion cell culture?
- What percentage
of students in the class are PTC-tasters?
should be based around a question framed by the student, for example:
- At the beginning
of the year, and of each unit of study, ask students to frame as
many questions as possible
- Ask student
to perform at least one in-depth investigation around a question
framed by the student- such as:
- How does
strength training affect muscle fatigue?
- How far
will my dog run to catch a ball?
- How does fertlizer
affect the growth of pea plants?
- Quizzes and
exams should at least in part contain questions submitted by
- Lab practicums
should consist of student-designed stations
formal instruction, students should "mess around" with a limited
set of materials,
- Do standard
strawberry DNA extraction lab, then open it up to other materials
- The activity
should be intrinsically interesting:
This tends to involve things
that move, grow, change, are slightly yucky, or personal to the student:
- Studying pond
a cow eye
- Dragon Genetics
- Growing pea
- Bacterial Survey
- Sheep Brain
- The activities
should be aesthetically pleasing, such as:
- Cell Models
- DNA Models
- Virus Models
- Drawings, videos,
.... Students who are part of an interactive community are more likely
to be successful....."
- Make some exams
take-home, with computer-randomized questions, to encourage students
to engage in self-directed social conversation about science;
- Encourage small-group
presentations and videos( to be posted on web) in lieu of traditional
- Encourage a
class wiki ( using tools such as PBworks
is personal; students enjoy themselves more and develop greater ownership
over the material when they are given an opportunity to construct
their own understanding."
As Daniel Pink,
in his book Drive,
on human motivation ,writes, "...the secret to high performance
and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the
deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new
things, and to do better by ourselves and our world...."
Notes on differentiated instruction
and inquiry-based labs:
In my experience,
inquiry-based labs are highly suitable for classrooms with a wide range
of student learners.
is based around the student's own questions, it does not require extensive
prior abstract, vocabulary-based knowledge which some students may have
labs involve hands-on activity, social interaction, and intrinsically
interesting stuff, such as observing swimming micro-organisms or dissecting
a cow eye, it tends to be attractive to students who may have a hard
time sitting still in vocabulary-based classroom discussions. And because
it is doing cool stuff ( a positive), inquiry-based
hands-on labs provide a "carrot" incentive for many of those
students who may otherwise have behavior issues.
Projects can also
be structured to involve several different skills and strengths; investigations
can involve both tactile learning and written aspects.
students need support just as much as struggling students;
if advanced students are bored, they frequently stop doing work altogether.
For these students, the complexity and level of analysis for a given
project can be increased, with optional web sites recommended. For modeling,
which involve tactile learning and aesthetic aspects, advanced students
can make models of things such as lipid
bilayer membranes with protein channels, specific tissue cells or
protists, mitochondria, or proteins.
Fundamentals of Inquiry
in Science (MOSARTS)
on Science Education
Art of Teaching Science Blog