Inquiry

What Is Teaching Science Through Inquiry All About?

This Expert Element on Inquiry is designed to support teachers in making the shift to teaching science through inquiry. Use this information to help direct your own learning and to enhance student learning through inquiry.

 

Commonly Asked Questions About Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning

The following questions are often asked by teachers about inquiry-based teaching and learning.  Click on the side menu files for questions about which you want further information.

  1. Why make the shift to teaching science through inquiry?
  2. What is inquiry-based learning?
  3. What are the benefits of inquiry-based learning in science?
  4. What are the categories of inquiry-based learning?
  5. Is using the scientific method the same as doing inquiry-based learning?
  6. How do I find time for inquiry-based Instruction?
  7. Can all science classes be taught through inquiry?
  8. How do teachers start the inquiry process?
  9. What questions can teachers ask students to promote the skills used in scientific inquiry based on the four broad areas identified in the Ontario Science curriculum?
  10. What is the teacher’s role in an inquiry-based classroom?
  11. What is the student’s role in an inquiry-based classroom?
  12. How are effective inquiry questions developed and applied?
  13. Why might students have difficulty with inquiry-based leaning?
  14. What strategies can be used to teach science through Inquiry?
  15. How do you assess inquiry-based learning?
  16. What are three inquiry-based approaches to conducting scientific investigations using balls and ramps?
  17. Where can further information on inquiry-based learning in science be found?

 

 

 

1 Making the Shift

1. Why MakE the Shift to Teaching Science Through Inquiry?

At one time, science was taught as a collection of facts with the teacher and/or textbook being the ultimate knowledge authority.  In this learning environment, the student was viewed as a passive learner whose main role was to listen and memorize what was given and to reproduce the expected answers on a test or examination. They learned not to ask many questions. The laboratory work was mainly geared to confirming or demonstrating a given concept.

However, science is more than just an organized body of knowledge. It is a process of obtaining knowledge and a method of thinking. In the last few decades, the new Ontario elementary Science and Technology and the secondary Science curricula have placed greater emphasis on developing scientific habits of mind. This aspect of science is called the processes of science, the scientific method, problem solving, and inquiry.

John Dewey is credited as one of the first American educators to stress the importance of inquiry. The concern for emphasizing both the subject matter and the method of inquiry dates back to 1910 when John Dewy wrote:

…..science teaching has suffered because science has been so frequently presented just as so much ready-made knowledge, so much subject matter of fact and law, rather than as the effective method of inquiry into the subject matter.                Dewey, John. Educational Essays, London: Blackie & Sons, 1910

The emphasis now has switched from the traditional teacher-centred class organization to student-centred organization. The inquiry approach requires the learner to be an active participant in the quest for knowledge. The role of the student as researcher is stressed.

Scientific inquiry is currently featured as one of the three major goals of the skills and knowledge students are expected to develop in the elementary Science and Technology and the secondary Science programs:

The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Science and Technology, 2007

  • to develop the skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry and technological problem solving.

The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Science, 2008

  • to develop the skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry.

The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 11 and 12: Science, 2008

  • to develop the skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Thinking and Learning Visible Through Inquiry

Educators become the leaders of a “community of inquiry.” They

do not wait for development to happen rather they foster, provoke,

and scaffold it by deepening children’s current understanding so

new knowledge systems and new connections among them may be

continuously generated.

 

(Adapted from Eun 2010, Bruner 1996)

http://www.edugains.ca/resourcesKIN/Video/Guides/ELK-VideoGuide_Inquiry.pdf

2 What is IBL?

2.  What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Inquiry can be defined as a search for knowledge. Inquiry-based learning usually begins when the student’s curiosity and wonder are aroused. That only happens, however, when they have a foundation of knowledge about specific major concepts and ideas in the discipline. In inquiry-based learning, the teacher is supporting the students’ quest for new knowledge and their curiosity about their world by fostering a culture of collaborative learning and risk-taking with their thinking.

Inquiry is a dynamic approach to learning that is ideally directed by student-generated questions, ideas, challenges, and problems, rather than solely those of the teacher. The teacher facilitates this dynamic process by permitting students to investigate their own questions, problems, and challenges by taking complete responsibility for the entire process of obtaining, organizing, interpreting, and communicating their findings while at the same time constructing new knowledge. Emphasis is placed on:

1.  Observing/exploring an event/phenomenon

2.  Identifying problem(s)

3.  Asking relevant questions

4.  Designing the investigation and analyzing the variables

5.  Conducting the investigation; making and recording observations

6.  Analyzing and interpreting the data/evidence

7.  Forming conclusions

8.  Thinking creatively and critically (evaluating the conclusions and applying the newly acquired

      knowledge)

9.  Communicating the entire process and the new knowledge

Figure 1.1: The Inquiry Process

SOURCE:  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, p26.

 

 

To effectively apply this inquiry process, students should have skills in problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

 

The five elements of inquiry described by Llewellyn (STAO Conference 2015, Toronto, Ontario, November 12, 2015) are:

 

1.  The learner engages (physically, mentally, and personally) with a science-oriented question.

2.  The learner gives priority to evidence when responding to a question.

3.  The learner uses evidence to form an explanation.

4.  The learner connects an explanation to scientific knowledge.

5.  The learner communicates and justifies an explanation.

 

According to Llewellyn (2011), scientific inquiry investigations can be divided into three major areas: the question, the procedure, and the results. These three areas are further divided into segments that have their own set of thinking skills and performance skills. This is summarized in his “Seven Segments of Scientific Inquiry” (Llewellyn, 2011, p6 - 8).

 

Figure 1.2: Visualizing Inquiry Concept Map

SOURCE:  Stan Kozak and Susan Elliott, Visualizing Inquiry Concept Map. 2014. Connecting the Dots: Key Strategies that Transform Learning for Environmental Education, Citizenship and Sustainability. By Learning for a Sustainable Future. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press Ltd., 2014.  

Retrieved from www.lsf-lst.ca

 

 

,

Figure 1.3: Defining Characteristics of Inquiry-Based Learning at The Laboratory School

SOURCE:  Chiarotto, L. (2011). Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers – Building Children’s Understanding of the World Through Environmental Inquiry. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press Ltd., p8.

Retrieved from   http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca/pdf/NaturalCuriosityManual.pdf

 

Common myths and misconceptions about inquiry-based teaching include:

  • Doing hands-on is the same as doing inquiry;
  • Inquiry is unstructured and chaotic;

  • Inquiry involves asking a lot of questions; doing scientific inquiry is the same as using the scientific method;

  • Only high-achieving students can learn through inquiry;

  • Inquiry is the latest “fad” in teaching science;

  • You cannot assess inquiry;

  • Students learn about scientific inquiry from doing inquiry.

(Douglas Llewellyn, STAO Conference 2015, Toronto, Ontario, November 12, 2015)

 

“The purpose of inquiry is not to instill curiosity in students but to discover it; for curiosity and inquisitiveness already lie within the individual – awaiting opportunities to be revealed and made known.”

D. Llewellyn, Rochester, New York,

Differentiated Science Inquiry, page 131

   

The following video by Scott Crombie gives an overview of the concepts of inquiry-based learning:

 What is Inquiry-Based Learning? May 26, 2014

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u84ZsS6niPc

 

Additional inquiry-based learning video clips are listed in “#16. Where can further information on inquiry-based learning in science be found?”

 

References

 

1.  Chiarotto, L. (2011). Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers – Building Children’s Understanding of the World Through Environmental Inquiry. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press Ltd.

Retrieved from   http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca/pdf/NaturalCuriosityManual.pdf

 

2.  Kozak, S. and Elliot, S. (2014). Connecting the Dots: Key Strategies that Transform Learning for Environmental Education, Citizenship and Sustainability. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press LTD.

Retrieved from www.lsf-lst.ca

 

3.  Llewellyn, D. (2011). Differentiated Science Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

 

4.  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Benefits

3.  What are the Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning in Science?

 

Extensive research has led to the conclusion that inquiry-based learning helps to improve student learning across the grades.  Some of the major benefits of an inquiry-based classroom includes (adapted from Watt and Colyer, 2014 and Kozak and Elliott, 2014):

 

  • Helps students to develop scientific habits of mind and skills necessary to become independent inquirers that can last a lifetime and guide their learning, creative thinking, and critical problem solving processes;
  • Stimulates and nurtures students’ curiosity that progressively leads to higher-level questions; increases student motivation, engagement, interest, and improved understanding by honouring and placing student questions and ideas at the focus of the lesson and their learning;
  • Makes learning relevant and meaningful by exploring students’ interests and connecting school learning with students’ own knowledge and experiences;
  • Promotes positive attitudes toward science and scientific literacy;
  • Emphasizes the investigative processes of science so that students learn science as a process and understand the empirical basis of the scientific evidence they discovered. It encourages what John Dewey many years ago stressed - learning by doing and becoming actively involved in experimenting by asking questions, planning and conducting investigations, using appropriate tools and technology to gather and analyze data, formulating and revising scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence, communicating and defending scientific arguments;
  • Improves student learning when schools adopt a consistent model of inquiry across all grades and subjects (Expert Panel on Literacy in Grades 4 to 6 in Ontario, 2004);
  • Supports social learning through students and teachers negotiating, sharing ideas, collaborating, and problem-solving together (Jennings and Mills, 2009);
  • Provides opportunity for students to develop communicative skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) and expression of creativity;
  • Supports the development of a community of learners where group knowledge building contributes to individual understanding (Scardamalia, 2002);
  • Provides opportunities for the teacher to integrate science, mathematics, technology, and other subjects with process skills and problem-solving strategies.

 

 

 
 

 

“Children need to engage in inquiry and the construction of their own explanations based on their results. They need to engage in developing their own theories and to argue with each other about why theory or explanation is better than another.”

 

Jeffery W. Bloom, Creating a Classroom Community of Young Scientists Second Edition, page 69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

1.  Jennings, L and Mills, J. (2009). Constructing a discourse of inquiry: Findings from a five-year ethnography at one elementary school. Teachers College Record 111 (7), 1583-1618.

 

2.  Expert Panel on Literacy in Grades 4 to 6 in Ontario. (2014). Literacy for learning: The report of the expert panel on literacy in grades 4 to 6 in Ontario. Retrieved from http://edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/report/literacy/panel/literacy.pdf

 

3.  Kozak, S. and Elliot, S. (2014). Connecting the Dots: Key Strategies that Transform Learning for Environmental Education, Citizenship and Sustainability. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press LTD.

Retrieved from www.lsf-lst.ca

 

4.  Scardamalia, M. (2002), Collective cognitive responsibility for the development of knowledge. In B. Smith (Ed.). Liberal Education in a Knowledge Society (pp 67-98). Chicago, IL: Open Court. 

 

5.  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

4 Categories

4.  What are the Categories of Inquiry-Based Learning?

 

The following table summarizes the four levels of inquiry. As one moves down the table, the ownership of the question or problem, the procedure, and the analysis of results shift from the teacher to the student (adapted from Llewellyn, 2011). As students develop skills in inquiry, teachers can scaffold their lessons from teacher-centred to student inquiry-centred.

 

Inquiry Level

Pose Question/Problem

Plan Procedure

Analyze Results

Description

Demonstrated Inquiry or Discrepant Event

Teacher

Teacher

Teacher

Activities geared to capture students’ attention and challenge prior conceptions or verify already known results. Students observe teacher-led inquiry and draw conclusions from their observations. It usually ends with a surprising, puzzling, counter-intuitive result. Teacher’s role is that of a motivator.

Structured  Inquiry

 

 

Teacher

Teacher

Student

Activities where students follow a sequence of procedures provided by the teacher or textbook. Students collect and organize the data and learn to analyze the evidence, make claims, and communicate their findings independently. Sometimes misnamed confirmation labs and verification labs. Teacher’s role is that of a coach.

Guided Inquiry or Teacher-Initiated Inquiry or

Problem solving

 

Teacher

Student

Student

Activities where students are given a challenge (question or problem) to be investigated by the teacher with suggested materials. Students, on their own design, carry out a procedure for the investigation, and analyze and communicate their findings independently. Teacher’s role is that of a facilitator.  

Self-Directed Inquiry or Student-Initiated Inquiry or Open-Ended Inquiry or

Full Inquiry

Student

Student

Student

Activities where students are responsible for all aspects of the investigation. Teacher’s role is that of a mentor.

Further descriptions on what the teacher and student do at each level of inquiry are summarized in Differentiated Science Inquiry (Llewellyn, 2011, p14- 21).

 

 

References

1.  Llewellyn, D. (2011). Differentiated Science Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

 

 

5 Scientific Method

5. Is Using the Scientific Method the Same as Doing Inquiry-Based Learning?

 

Doing inquiry-based-learning does not necessarily imply following the steps of the scientific method. Inquiry incorporates the logic of problem-solving that comes from the scientific method, but not necessarily in a sequential set of steps or procedures.

 

6 Finding Time

6.  How do I Find Time for Inquiry-Based Instruction?

 

Inquiry-based learning involves a different use of time instead of requiring more time. By planning across Overall Expectations and/or Big Ideas rather than Specific Expectations, inquiry can actually allow for greater curriculum coverage, but it will look very different.

 

The issue for many teachers is the time constraints they feel they are placed under to cover (uncover) a great number of concepts within a provided instructional time. The challenge lies in finding and scheduling longer classes to do engaging and extended inquiries. In elementary grades, this can be addressed through interdisciplinary instruction extended throughout the day or through block scheduling. In secondary grades, investigations can be pursued over multiple periods. Teachers need to be effective and efficient with their time in order to have enough time for inquiry-based instruction.

 

Teachers need to teach inquiry explicitly and allow time for practice and improvement of inquiry process skills.  Furthermore, developing critical thinking skills and engaging students in asking questions, planning solutions, and gathering and analyzing information are skills that require time to nurture.

7 Application

7.  Can all Science Classes be Taught Through Inquiry?

 

Effective teachers use their professional judgment to decide which lessons are best presented through teacher-directed instruction and those that can be guided through inquiry. Some science lessons lend themselves more to a structured approach due to safety concerns and availability of materials. Inquiry is one more strategy teachers can use at the appropriate times to engage students in investigations and promote their curiosity of learning. Also, during an inquiry, teachers can and should stop and deliver teacher-directed lessons, or chunks of lessons, as required. It is not an either or.

 

 

 

 

Figure 6.1: Inquiry-Based Learning Integrated with Other Strategies

SOURCE:  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, p6.

 

 

References

1.  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

8 Getting Started

8.  How do Teachers Start the Inquiry Process?

 

The pathway to become an inquiry-based teacher requires starting small, reflecting on their practice, developing a network of colleagues to offer encouragement, support, and maintain on-going conversation to help enhance their skills. It is important to plan across the Overall Expectations, create an assessment plan, and decide what elements of inquiry will be targeted.

 

Asking and answering questions is a fundamental feature of successful inquiry instruction which needs to be tied to content.  Teachers have a role in helping students learn how to ask productive and significant questions.

 

Begin by taking the curriculum expectations, select a key concept, and present it to students as “big” questions. Engage the students by assessing and building on their existing knowledge, experiences and skills, and what they want to know. Students will be more interested in exploring a topic when they can connect to the topic personally. In addition, students will take ownership of their learning and assessing their own learning if they are involved in the co-construction of success criteria for both the final product and inquiry process. Also, Learning Goals that are stated in ‘student friendly language’ should be made visible at the onset of the inquiry process to address intention, relevance, and purpose – explicitly stating to students the ‘why’ of learning and deciding together ‘how’ we will get there. 

 

Continue to model inquiry-based thinking by asking meaningful and authentic open-ended questions. Examples of questions to guide students in developing an inquiring mind include:

  • What do you observe?
  • What do you think will happen if…?
  • What can we do to find out ….?
  • Why do you think that happened?
  • What do you think will happen when…?
  • What are you still wondering about?

 

Continue to scaffold and model the stages of inquiry by offering experiences that lead students to generate their own questions and design investigations to answer these questions. Decide if the students will develop and explore their questions individually, in small groups or as a whole group.  Throughout the inquiry process, the teacher gradually releases responsibility to students as they gain knowledge, skills, and confidence.

 

It is counter intuitive in inquiry instruction to follow pre-determined series of lessons. Instead, reflect on the students’ questions and ideas, and identify specific goals and objectives to guide the planning of the subsequent lessons in the unit. Students need time to explore, spark curiosity, and pursue questions on their pathway to inquiry-based learning.

 

As teachers map out their long-range instructional plans, take into account the amount of prior experience students have in scientific inquiry. Experienced teachers take this into consideration when planning how and when to introduce inquiry-based opportunities. For some classes, there may be a gradual transition over several months from teacher-led demonstrated inquiry and students completing hands-on structured or guided inquiry activities and labs, to eventually more open-ended, self-directed, student-centred investigations. Over time, the teacher’s role will change from motivator, to coach, to facilitator, to mentor.

Teachers may perceive they have less control as students move around in student-centred classrooms. To avoid chaotic situations, good classroom management and questioning skills will help to create a culture of inquiry.

Table 7.1:  Planning Inquiry-Based Thinking Process for Students

SOURCE:  Chiarotto, L. (2011). Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers – Building Children’s Understanding of the World Through Environmental Inquiry. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press Ltd., p19.

Retrieved from   http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca/pdf/NaturalCuriosityManual.pdf

 

 

 

Suggested link for further information:

Capacity Building Series, Inquiry-Based Learning

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_InquiryBased.pdf

 

 

References

1.  Chiarotto, L. (2011). Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers – Building Children’s Understanding of the World Through Environmental Inquiry. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press Ltd.

Retrieved from   http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca/pdf/NaturalCuriosityManual.pdf

 

2.  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press. 

 

 

Reproducible Resource: 

 

 

SOURCE:  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, p139.

9 Formulating Questions

9.  What Questions Can Teachers Ask Students to Promote the Skills Used in Scientific Inquiry Within the Four Broad Areas Identified in the Ontario Science Curriculum?

 

 

Skill

 

Sub-Skill

 

Teacher Questions

 

Initiating and Planning

Formulate questions and hypotheses or make predictions about issues, problems, or the relationship between observable variables, and plan investigations to answer the questions or test the hypotheses/predictions

 

 

Think and brainstorm

  • What prior knowledge do you have about your question?

 

Identify problems/issues to explore

  • What is the nature of the problem or phenomenon being observed?

 

Formulate questions

  • What is your question?
  • Why is your question important to you?
  • Clarify what you mean by the question.
  • Can you rephrase the question another way?
  • What are several similar questions you could investigate from the observed phenomenon?

 

Identify variables

  • What variables will you consider in designing the investigation?
  • What is the manipulating variable in the investigation?
  • What is the responding variable?
  • Do you need a control for this investigation? Why or why not?

 

Make predictions, develop hypotheses

  • What hypothesis can you make from the question?
  • Propose a possible answer to your question. What other answers are also possible?
  • Predict what you think the answer to the question will be.

 

Define and clarify the inquiry or research problem

  • Is your question investigable?
  • Why did you select this particular question?
  • Why is the problem important to you?
  • What data do you need to collect?

 

Identify and locate research sources

  • What information will you need to investigate your question?

 

Select instruments and materials

  • What supplies and materials will you need to investigate the question?

 

Plan for safe practices in investigations

  • How would you design an investigation to answer the question?
  • What safety procedures should be included in your investigation?

SOURCE:  Douglas Llewellyn, STAO 2015 Conference handout, Toronto, Ontario, November, 12, 2015

 

 

 

Skill

 

 

Sub-Skill

 

Teacher’s Questions

 

Performing and Recording

Conduct research by gathering, organizing, and recording information  from appropriate sources: and conduct inquiries, making observations and collecting , organizing, and recording qualitative and quantitative data

 

 

Conduct inquiries safely

  • What safety rules do you need to follow?

 

Observe and record observations

  • What did you observe during the investigation?
  • What can you infer from the observations?

 

Use equipment, materials, and technology accurately and safely

  • What supplies or equipment do you need to carry out your investigation?

 

Control variables, as appropriate

  • How many trials will you conduct?
  • What is the manipulating variable in the investigation?
  • What is the responding variable?
  • Do you need a control for this investigation? Why or why not?

 

Adapt or extend procedures

  • What additional observations can you make from your question?
  • What other variable can be tested?

 

Gather, organize, and record relevant information from research, and data from inquiries

  • What data did you collect?
  • How will you organize your data?
  • What will your data table look like?
  • How did you organize your data on a table or chart?

 

Acknowledge sources, using an accepted form of documentation

  • What articles, books, or sources did you cite?
  • What have others said about your question and findings?

 

 

 

SOURCE:  Douglas Llewellyn, STAO 2015 Conference handout, Toronto, Ontario, November, 12, 2015

 

Skill

 

 

Sub-Skill

 

Teacher’s Questions

 

Analyzing and Interpreting

Evaluate the reliability of data from inquiries, and of information from research sources, and analyze the data of information to identify patterns and relationships, and draw and justify conclusions

 

 

Think critically and logically

  • What have you learned from the investigation?
  • What new information do you need now?
  • How would you investigate another variable from the results?
  • What other questions do you have?
  • How does the new knowledge apply to other situations you are learning about?
  • Was your investigation well designed?
  • If you were to redesign your investigation, what would you change or do differently?

 

Evaluate reliability of data and information

  • Is the data biased?
  • Is the data reliable?
  • Were your original assumptions about the question correct?

 

Process and synthesize data

  • What answer did you get?
  • Can you develop an explanation from the evidence collected?

 

Evaluate whether data supports or refutes hypotheses/predictions

  • How does the data support your previous convictions about the question? About the hypothesis?
  • How do the results support what you expected?
  • How do the results support what you already knew about the phenomenon?

 

Interpret data/information to identify patterns and relationships

  • How would you interpret the data and evidence?
  • Do you see a pattern coming from the data?
  • What patterns are emerging from the data?
  • What is the relationship between the independent and dependent variables?
  • What does the data say or imply?
  • How is one variable dependent upon another?

 

Draw conclusions

  • What conclusions can you draw from the evidence?
  • What explanation can you propose from the evidence collected?
  • How would you summarize your results?

 

Justify  conclusions

  • How does the evidence support or refute your claim?

 

Identify sources of error or bias

  • Consider what would happen if you changed the variable.
  • What could make the data biased or unreliable?

SOURCE:  Douglas Llewellyn, STAO 2015 Conference handout, Toronto, Ontario, November, 12, 2015

 

 

 

Skill

 

 

Sub-Skill

 

Teacher’s Questions

 

Communicating

 

Use appropriate linguistic, numerical, symbolic, and graphic modes to  communicate ideas, procedures, results, and conclusions in a variety of ways

 

 

Communicate ideas, procedures, and results in a variety of forms (e.g., orally, in writing, using electronic presentations)

  • Tell me what you learned from doing the investigation.
  • What is the main idea for your discovery?
  • How will you summarize your findings?

 

Use appropriate formats to communicate results (e.g., reports, data tables, scientific models)

  • How can you construct a model to support your explanation?
  • How will you communicate your results?
  • How will you defend your findings?
  • Create a model to explain your new knowledge.

 

Use numeric, symbolic, and graphic modes of representation

  • How can you represent your findings in graphic forms?

 

Express results accurately and precisely

  • Explain how you know your data is reliable or valid.

 

Use correct terminology and appropriate units of measurement

  • What is the standard unit of measurement for your data?

SOURCE:  Douglas Llewellyn, STAO 2015 Conference handout, Toronto, Ontario, November, 12, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Teacher Role

10.  What is the Teacher’s Role in an Inquiry-Based Classroom?

Teachers in an inquiry-based science classroom demonstrate common behaviours, attitudes, and skills when compared to teachers in traditional classroom settings. Several of these include (adapted from Llewellyn, 2005 and Chiarotto, L. 2011):

  • Acting as a facilitator, mediator, initiator, and coach, while modeling, scaffolding, and supporting the stages of inquiry while gradually releasing responsibility as students gain knowledge, skill ,and confidence;
  • Stimulating and nurturing student curiosity, wonder, interest, empathy, and risk-taking with their thinking; 
  • Focusing on broad key concepts rather than Specific Expectations;
  • Asking questions and posing problems that require higher-level and critical thinking skills;
  • Engaging students in posing relevant questions and problems;
  • Maintaining a wonder wall of questions;
  • Assessing students’ prior knowledge at the beginning of the lesson or unit;
  • Using students’ prior knowledge as a basis to introduce new concepts;
  • Making learning relevant and meaningful to the student;
  • Using inquiries and investigations to anchor new information to previously acquired knowledge;
  • Using questions to initiate classroom discussions;
  • Rephrasing student questions and responses to help students answer their own questions;
  • Asking follow-up questions to student answers;
  • Refraining from divulging answers;
  • Looking for teachable moments that arise from problems of understanding;
  • Encouraging students to design and carry out their own investigations;
  • Co-learning with students;
  • Focusing the lesson on engaging and meaningful problem-solving situations;
  • Limiting the use of lecturing and direct instruction to appropriate occasions;
  • Allowing students to demonstrate what they know in multiple ways;
  • Using instructional classroom time effectively and efficiently by using the entire class time for instructional purposes;
  • Integrating science content with process skills, problem-solving strategies, and other subjects;
  • Planning lessons with the constructivist teaching strategy 5E Learning Cycle : engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration or extension, and evaluation (Coe, 2001);
  • Moderating classroom discussions so all students can share their view points;
  • Assessing student performance (process and product) in a variety of ways;
  • Monitoring student progress continuously on a daily basis;
  • Maintaining appropriate classroom management by providing expectations and structure;
  • Displaying student work, concept maps, and graphic organizers;
  • Arranging student desks in small groups or U-shape to encourage discussion and collaboration;
  • Providing computer and textbook resources, materials, and supplies for in-class use;
  • Providing areas to store projects and extended investigations.

 

Reproducible: 

 

SOURCE:  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, p136-137

 

 

References

1.  Chiarotto, L. (2011). Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers – Building Children’s Understanding of the World Through Environmental Inquiry. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press Ltd.

Retrieved from   http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca/pdf/NaturalCuriosityManual.pdf

 

2.  Coe, M. A. (2001). The 5E Learning Cycle Model.

Retrieved October 2013 from http://faculty.mwsu.edu/west/maryann.coe/coe/inquire/inquiry.htm

 

3.  Llewellyn, D. (2005). Teaching High School Science Through Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

 

4.  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

 

 

11 Student Role

11.  What is the Student’s Role in an Inquiry-Based Classroom?

 

 Students in inquiry-based science classrooms demonstrate common behaviours and habits of mind when compared to students in traditional classrooms. Several of these include (adapted from Llewellyn, 2005):

 

  • Demonstrating curiosity, open-mindfulness, and imagination by acting/viewing themselves as researchers/investigators;
  • Developing interest and positive attitudes towards science;
  • Posing self-generated questions that provide insight into their understanding;
  • Asking clarifying questions;
  • Designing investigations based on their self-generated questions or problems;
  • Utilizing higher-level and critical thinking skills to solve problems and analyze collected data/ evidence;
  • Posing logical arguments to defend conclusions;
  • Working collaboratively to construct knowledge and build positive peer relationships;
  • Reflecting and taking responsibility for their own learning;
  • Connecting new knowledge to prior understandings;
  • Choosing effective ways to communicate their work;
  • Demonstrating science understandings in a variety of ways.

 

Children at each grade level will display characteristic skills. For example, children in kindergarten who are learning through inquiry might be seen:

  • exploring objects and events, noticing patterns and properties;
  • observing objects and events, noticing patterns and properties;
  • comparing, sorting, classifying, interpreting, building, creating;

                             

 or,  they might be heard

  • making predictions and sharing theories (“I think that…..”);
  • generating questions;
  • sharing and discussing thoughts and ideas.

Source: http://www.edugains.ca/resourcesKIN/SchoolLeader/BuildingRelationships/Inquiry.pdf

 

All students should have an understanding of how ‘Learning Skills and Work Habits’ impact their learning and demonstrate how ‘Responsibility, Organization, Independent Work, Collaboration, Initiative, and Self-Regulation’ impact their assessment, evaluation, and overall well-being.

(Growing Success: https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/growSuccess.pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When students are doing inquiry-based science, an observer will see that:

Source: "Inquiry Based Science: What Does It Look Like?" Connect Magazine

(published by Synergy Learning), March-April 1995, p13

         
 

Children View Themselves as Scientists in the Process of Learning

 

Children look forward to doing science.
 

Children demonstrate a desire to learn more.

 

Children seek to collaborate and work cooperatively with their peers.

 

Children are confident in doing science.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Children Raise Questions
 

Children ask questions (verbally or through actions).
 

Children use questions to lead them to investigations that generate further questions or ideas.
 

Children value and enjoy asking questions as an important part of science.

 
   

Children Use Observation
 

Children observe, as opposed to just looking.
 

Children see details; they detect sequences and events; they notice change, similarities, and differences.
 

Children make connections to previously held ideas.

 

 
   

Children Critique Their Science Practices
 

Children use indicators to assess their own work.
 

Children report their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Children reflect with their peers

Children Accept an “Invitation to Learn” and Readily Engage in the Exploration Process
 

Children exhibit curiosity and ponder observations.

Children move around selecting and using the materials they need.
 

Children take the opportunity and the time to “try out” their own ideas.

 

 

 

Children Plan and Carry Out Investigations
 

Children design a way to try out their ideas, not expecting to be told what to do.

Children plan ways to verify, extend or discard ideas.
 

Children carry out investigations by: handling materials, observing, measuring, and recording data.

 

Children Communicate Using a Variety of Methods

Children express ideas in a variety of ways: journals, reporting out, drawing, graphing, charting, etc.
 

Children listen, speak, and write about science with parents, teachers and peers.

Children use the language of the processes of science.
 

Children communicate their level of understanding of concepts that they have developed to date.

Children Propose Explanations and Solutions, and Build a Store of Concepts

 

Children use investigations to satisfy their own questions.
 

Children sort out information and decide what is important.
 

Children are willing to revise explanations as they gain new knowledge.

 

 

 

References

 

1.  Inquiry Based Science, What Does It Look Like? CONNECT MAGAZINE, published by Synergy Learning (March-April 1995): 35.

 

2.  Llewellyn, D. (2005). Teaching High School Science Through Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

 

3.  Ontario Ministry of Education, EduGAINS, Learning through Inquiry.                                               Retrieved from:   http://www.edugains.ca/resourcesKIN/SchoolLeader/BuildingRelationships/Inquiry.pdf

 

4.  Ontario Ministry of Education. (2010). Growing success: Assessment, evaluation, and reporting in Ontario schools, first edition, covering grades 1 to 12.  Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/growSuccess.pdf

12 Effective Questioning

12.  How are Effective Inquiry Questions Developed and Applied?

 

Questions are the foundation of inquiry learning and teaching. However, asking a lot of questions does not necessarily make for an inquiry lesson. In a traditional classroom, teachers ask questions to elicit students’ feedback about readings, activities, and surveying prior knowledge, interests, understandings, opinions, and beliefs. In an inquiry classroom, teachers ask more open-ended and self-reflective thinking questions.

 

Teachers need to model good questioning skills and provide opportunities for students to ask and answer their own thoughtful, insightful, and discipline-related questions when they get more skilled at inquiry-based learning.  In today’s schools, the emphasis is on using questions to provide the foundation for learning how to learn rather than what to learn. 

 

Begin integrating and modeling inquiry questions by planning in advance three or more over arching questions around the big ideas and major concepts of the lesson/unit which require higher-level thinking skills (application, synthesis, and evaluation) for the purposes of capturing students’ attention, engaging class discussion, and challenging students’ thinking.  Inquiry questions and big ideas can be found in curriculum documents, textbooks, and other resources. Posting inquiry questions in the classroom and in course outlines helps to prioritize and inform students of their learning goals. It is not necessary to pose inquiry questions for each lesson. This will reduce student confusion about which question is the important one that they should be focusing on.

 

Follow-up on student responses with questions that ask for supporting details, such as, “Why do you think that way?” Rephrase questions when a student is unable to provide an answer. Consider having students record their questions and ways to find answers in a separate folder, journal book or binder. 

 

What are the qualities of an effective inquiry question?  Several fundamental features include (adapted from Watt & Colyer, 2014 and McTighe & Wiggins, 2013):

 

  • Invites deep thinking rather than recall and summarize;
  • Makes students think about something in a new way;
  • Promotes critical, creative, reflective, and productive thinking about the discipline concepts;
  • Engages students’ curiosity;
  • Leads to further good questions;
  • Is open-ended with no final correct answer;
  • Requires support and justification rather than a single answer;
  • Points toward important and transferable ideas within and possibly across the disciplines;
  • Revisits the question over time.

 

Suggested links for further information:

 

What Makes a Good Question?

 

Reading, Writing, and Researching for History

3.d What makes a Good Question?

http://www.academic.bowdoin.edu/WritingGuides/

 

IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning

Chapter 3.2 What does a good inquiry question look like? p 42-49

http://www.oupcanada.com/school/iq.html

 

Capacity Building Series, Asking Effective Questions

http://www.curriculum.org/secretariat/engagingmath/files/EffectiveQuestions.pdf

 

Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions

http://hepg.org/hel-home/issues/27_5/helarticle/teaching-students-to-ask-their-own-questions_507

 

5 Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/help-students-become-better-questioners-warren-berger

 

Foster Student Questions: Strategies for Inquiry-Based Learning

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/strategies-for-inquiry-based-learning-john-mccarthy 

 

Inquiry-Based Learning: Developing Student Driven Questions

http://www.edutopia.org/practice/wildwood-inquiry-based-learning-developing-student-driven-questions

 

References

 

1.  McTighe, J. and Wiggins, G. (2013). Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding.   

     Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

2.  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford

     University Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reproducible Resource: 

 

 

 

SOURCE:  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, p 141.

13 Student Difficulties

13.  Why Might Students have Difficulty with Inquiry-Based Leaning?

 

Students may have difficulty in learning science through inquiry for several reasons: lack of experience with inquiry, difficulty with the investigation’s subject matter, the choice of problems to investigate and they may not have been appropriately guided through the investigation. 

 

A study conducted by Krajcik et al (1998) reported students’ limited experience with inquiry as being a source of many of the difficulties encountered in their learning through inquiry. Difficulties were attributed to students’ failure to:

 

 

  • Generate high-level driving questions that can be applied to small-scale investigations;
  • Discuss ideas systematically;
  • Consider ideas systematically;
  • Make connections between evidence and hypothesis;
  • Use evidence they generated in considering their questions;
  • Have experience in gathering and interpreting data/information and drawing conclusions.

 

For these reasons, it is essential students have a basic understanding of inquiry if inquiry-based methods are to be successfully applied in teaching science.

 

Inquiry-based instruction must emphasize the “how do we come to know what we know” of science, not just the “what” of science. Inquiry should not be presented solely as a procedure or that which is devoid of content, as either will contribute to losing its meaning and substance.

 

References

 

1.  Krajcik, J. Blumenfield, P. C., Marx, R. W., Bass, K. M., Fredricks, J., & Soloway, E. (1998). Inquiry in Project-Based Science Classrooms: Initial Attempts by Middle School Students. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7 (3/4), 313-350.

14 Instructional Strategies

14.  What Strategies Can Be Used to Teach Science Through Inquiry?

 

Inquiry can be incorporated into science teaching in several ways to help promote students’ curiosity and development of knowledge, understanding, skills, and critical and logical thinking. These include the use of:

 

  • Case studies;
  • Laboratory work;
  • Demonstrations;
  • Class discussions & Knowledge Building Circles by revisiting questions or topics of interest and eliciting prior knowledge;
  • Problem-based learning;
  • Research projects;
  • Observing natural phenomena;
  • Technology (simulations, exploring data, research & information, tutorials);
  • Project-based learning (PBL);
  • Issue-based community environmental leadership service learning/stewardship action projects;
  • Media literacy;
  • Interactive read-alouds, stories, and articles.

 

Conducting “hands-on” science activities does not guarantee inquiry or “minds-on”, nor is reading about science incompatible with inquiry. Inquiry-based learning involves students thinking and proposing questions to investigate and designing their own investigations, problem-solving, and collaborating with peers.  

15 Assessment

15.  How do you Assess Inquiry-Based Learning?

 

Teachers can use the same assessment skills they already have been using, i.e., assessment as, for, and of learning, as well as gathering evidence of learning through the triangulation of conversations, observations, and products (Watt and Colyer, 2014). The Ministry of Education expects teachers to focus their assessment on the students’ achievement of the Overall Expectations (Growing Success, 2010).

Figure 14.1: Triangulation of Assessment Data

 

SOURCE:  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, p17.

 

 Although inquiry may seem, at first, difficult to assess, there are several useful approaches to measure students’ competence in scientific inquiry and academic progress. Whereas traditional paper-and-pencil multiple choice tests are best in assessing content knowledge, popular alternative authentic strategies to assess inquiry include, but are not limited to:

 

  • Portfolios;
  • Reflection journals;

  • Rubrics;

  • Performance tasks;

  • Structured interviews;

  • Lab books/reports;

  • Concept maps and graphic organizers;

  • Formal and informal observations;

  • Monitoring charts for learning skills and work habits (e.g., responsibility, organization, collaboration, independent work, initiative, self regulation);

  • Peer and self-assessment (focus on assessment as learning);

  • Conferences with students (one-on-one , small group);

  • Student-generated and application questions; 

  • Visual art;

  • Course inquiry questions as final assessment questions; 

  • Capstone projects/culminating tasks (e.g., final inquiries, investigations, research projects, and presentations);

  • Tracking tools (e.g., notebooks, picture/video/audio devices, digital devices –class blog, Google doc, etc.);

  • Questioning skills (Are students demonstrating an inquiry stance? Are they critical thinkers throughout their learning?);

  • Daily exit slips (i.e., post-its, reflections on class blog, online-responses, etc.);  

  • Conversations through Knowledge Building Circles (learning through listening);

  • Effects of descriptive feedback (Are students applying feedback?);

  • Pedagogical documentation through professional discourse. Invite other educators into the learning space (guiding questions: What do we see?  What do we think?  What does this tell us about this particular student’s thinking and learning? What assumptions are we making?  What are our next steps?).

Collaboratively deciding how learning will be tracked empowers students to take ownership and responsibility. Online platform is highly recommended as it fosters on-going discussion and documentation of the learning process.

 

Rather than a one-time test, it is important that assessment of inquiry skills be on-going, rely on multiple strategies and sources for collecting information that measures the quality of student work, and provides feedback to the students on ways to make improvements. Appropriate authentic inquiry-based assessment tools should test not only the content knowledge, but provide opportunity for students to demonstrate science process skills, scientific reasoning skills, creativity, and metacognitive skills (Llewellyn, 2005). In other words, they are designed to successfully measure what the students know and what they can do specifically related to the inquiry process.

 

 

 References

 

1.  Llewellyn, D. (2005). Teaching High School Science Through Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

 

2.  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

 

 

 

Reproducible Resources: 

 

 

 

SOURCE:  Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, p138.

16 Sample Approaches

16.  What are Three Inquiry-Based Approaches to Conducting Scientific Investigations Using Balls and Ramps?

 

How are the lessons and student guide sheets designed differently for the various levels of inquiry? As a resource for teachers, Douglas Llewellyn has developed the following detailed outlines as a guide for teachers to implement the Balls and Ramps investigations as structured inquiry, guided inquiry, and self-directed inquiry. (Source:  Douglas Llewellyn, Ontario Presenter Guide and Ontario Student Guide handout at STAO Conference 2015, Toronto, Ontario, November 12, 2015)

Objective

To explore the concept of motion energy and determine the effect of different variables on rolling objects

Background Information for the Teacher

In Balls and Ramps, the amount of potential energy given to the ball is determined by the height of the release point. When the ball or marble is released, its potential energy is converted to kinetic energy (the motion of the rolling object). However, a significant amount of kinetic energy is “absorbed” as the ball hits the floor surface, especially when working on a carpeted area. Students can also investigate how the mass of the ball (wooden balls with various diameters) or marble affects the distance it will travel across the floor, realizing that the friction between the rolling ball and the floor’s surface also affects the distance the ball travels.

Possible Student Prior Conceptions

When investigating the effect of the ramp’s angle, students may not realize that as the angle of the ramp increases, the release point (the height) of the ball should remain the same. Students may create a greater angle by increasing the number of blocks, thus also increasing the potential energy provided to the released ball.

Materials

  • Assorted 2.5 cm (1") blocks - available in craft and hobby stores
  • 30 cm (12") grooved rulers
  • Assorted sizes of marbles (1 cm/½", 2 cm/¾", 3 cm/1")
  • Assorted balls (ping-pong ball, super ball, rubber ball)
  • Assorted wooden balls with different diameters

     (1 cm/½", 2 cm/¾", 2.5 cm/1", 5 cm/2", 7.5 cm/3", & 10 cm/4")

  • Assorted steel balls with different diameters (1 cm/½", 2 cm/¾", 2.5 cm/1")
  • Assorted golf balls (regular golf ball, Wiffle-type golf ball, hollow plastic golf ball)
  • Measuring tapes
  • Protractors
  • Calculators (optional)
  • 15 cm (6") and 45 cm (18") grooved rulers (optional)
  • Calipers for measuring the diameter of a marble or ball (optional)
  • Triple-beam balances for measuring the mass of a marble or ball (optional)
  • Science journals

Prior Set-up and Arrangements

Materials for each station should be readily available in a clear plastic baggie or a cardboard shoe box.

Students Working in Groups

Students often dive into an investigation without spending the necessary time to completely understand or “noodle through” the question or problem being investigated. After all, for many youngsters, the best part of science is getting right into the materials. Encourage students to spend a considerable amount of time “getting-to-know” the question or problem facing them. Be sure students recognize the nature of the question before proceeding into the hands-on portion of the activity. Spending more time analyzing the question (and later reflecting of the question and its results) will enable students not only to do inquiry more effectively, but to better articulate and “come-to-know” about the process of scientific inquiry.

As students work in mixed groups (by ability, gender, language proficiency, or status), be observant and mindful as to which students have access to the materials and which role each is playing during the activity. When groups are mixed by gender, for example two boys and two girls in a group, watch for the role which boys play versus the girls. Usually, boys tend to dominate the manipulative aspects of the investigation, leaving the observing and record keeping role to the girls. This is especially true when the boys outnumber girls in a group, say two boys and one girl in a group. Be sure each group member has equal access to the materials by distributing group roles and responsibilities equitably amongst the members.

With some cases, the teacher may decide to provide a hypothesis to test. With other cases, the teacher may want the students to formulate their own hypothesis. This will largely depend upon the experience level of the individuals within the group.

Students can also investigate how the length of the ramp, the surface of the flooring, the angle of the ramp, the diameter of the balls or marbles, the mass of the balls or marbles, the composition of the balls (glass, wood, or steel), or the release point on the ramp influence the distance the ball or marble will travel. It is especially important to know that many of the variables within this concept cannot be completely isolated. One variable may affect another. For example, as students vary the angle of the ramp (controlling for potential energy, releasing the ball from a height of one block), they also vary the length of the ramp. Also, as the angle increases, much of the kinetic energy from the ball is “absorbed” by the floor when the ball reaches the end of the ramp.

 

For each inquiry, the teacher may choose to add additional, unessential balls and marbles to the bag of materials. These will act as distracters, causing students to think critically about which materials are most appropriately needed to carry out the investigation and which are not. It may, however, trigger students to think all the materials in the bag need to be used, thus causing students to test more than one variable at a time. Deciding which materials are relevant in an investigation is an essential reasoning skill in inquiry-based learning. Providing additional materials as distracters helps develop this fundamental skill. For students new to inquiry, you may want to provide only the necessary materials.

As students carry out their procedure, they may ask, “What is the correct (or reasonable) number of trials to take?” The answer varies. Many science teachers recommend an odd number of trials, such as 3 or 5, but certainly not 1 or 2. In the structured inquiry, 3 trials are taken in order to determine an average. Teachers may choose to have advanced students make 5 trials and then eliminate the highest and lowest recordings; and then report the range of the 3 trials and the mean of the 3 “middle” distances.

If students have competence using Excel software, a computer-generated data table and a graph may be required.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a Structured Inquiry: Balls and Ramps Student Guide

 

Introduction

This investigation is designed as a structured inquiry where the problem/question and the procedure are provided, but collecting and organizing the results is left to you. This investigation provides a step-by-step procedure and the materials to complete each step. There are assorted balls and marbles in the bag of materials that will help you conduct this activity. At the end of the activity are several other questions you may choose to investigate.

                         

Problem:                    How does the height of an inclined plane affect the distance a marble will travel?

Materials:                  One 30 cm or 12" ruler with groove

                                  Five blocks (or books), each 2.5 cm or 1" high

                                  One ball or marble

                                  One measuring tape

Procedure:                

  1. Place one end of the ruler on the edge of a block.
  2. Place the ball/marble in the ruler’s groove as far up the ruler as possible.
  3. Release the ball/marble.
  4. Using that observation, make a prediction as to how the height of an inclined plane will affect the distance the ball/marble travels. Record that statement on a separate sheet of paper. 
    For example: My prediction is - As the height of the ramp increases, the distance the ball/marble travels ______________________________. 
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 3 of the procedure for 3 separate trials. Using the measuring tape, measure the distance (in cm) the ball/marble travels for each trial.
  6. On your paper, design a data table to record and organize the results.
  7. Repeat the same procedure for 5 cm or 2 inches by placing a second block on top of the first. Place the ruler on the top of the second block so the height of the ruler is now at 5 cm or 2 inches. Release the ball/marble and record your results in the data table.
  8. Repeat the same procedure for 7.5 cm or 3 inches, 10 cm or 4 inches, and 12.5 cm or 5 inches and again, record your results in the data table.
  9. Calculate the average for each height. Show your work.

                           

Conclusion:              

Using the data collected, decide if the prediction you made was correct or not and explain why. Place your explanation below.

                                                                                                                                                                             

Follow-up Investigation

Design an investigation that will determine how the surface the ball/marble rolls upon affects the distance it will travel. Include a diagram to illustrate your design. Place the question being investigated on a sentence strip and post it above the area where you complete your investigation. Carry out your investigation and record all important data. Be prepared to provide an explanation as to whether or not your prediction was correct.

Or you may choose to investigate any of the following questions:

  • How will the distance the ball/marble travels be affected by shortening the ramp (ruler) from 30 cm/12 inches to 15 cm/6 inches? Or lengthening the ramp to 45 cm/18 inches?
  • How does the size of the marble (small, medium, and large) affect how far it will travel?
  • How does the release point on the ruler affect the distance the ball/marble will travel?

                           

 

 

As a Guided Inquiry: Balls and Ramps Student Guide

 

Introduction

This investigation is designed as a problem-solving activity or guided inquiry where the problem task is provided, but the procedure and collecting and organizing of the results are left to you. This investigation provides five tasks and the materials to complete each task, although you probably may not complete all five tasks. There are assorted balls and marbles in the bag of materials that act as both distracters and enablers. In this case, rather than being told, you will have to determine which items you need and which items you don’t need. The additional materials may also spur other questions and tasks to investigate.

To begin, follow the three steps listed below. From this initial exploration, consider one or more tasks from the list to investigate. For each task, write the question and a prediction or a hypothesis on a sentence strip. Post the sentence strip on the wall above your work. Determine the variables and controls needed, and design appropriate data tables to collect evidence for each investigation. Include a diagram to illustrate your investigation. Carry out your investigation and record all important data. Be prepared to provide an explanation as to whether or not your prediction/hypothesis was correct.

Procedure:

                        1. Place one end of the ruler on the edge of a block.

                        2. Place the ball/marble in the ruler’s groove as far up the ruler as possible.

                        3. Release the ball/marble.

 

Then choose any one or more of the following tasks:

  • Task 1: Design and carry out a procedure that will answer the question: How does the height of an inclined plane affect the distance a ball or marble will travel? Record all your data in your science journal.
  • Task 2: Using the materials at the station, design and carry out a procedure that will have a small ball or marble, when released from the top of a ramp, stop precisely at a point five feet from the end of the ramp. Draw an illustration of your design. Record all your data in your science journal.
  • Task 3: Repeat Task 2, this time using a golf ball instead of a small ball or marble. Answer the question: How did you change the design of the procedure for Task 3? Record all your data in your science journal.
  • Task 4: Design and carry out a procedure that will answer the question: How does the composition, diameter, or mass of a ball affect the distance it will travel? Record all your data in your science journal.
  • Task 5: Design and carry out an investigation to determine how the angle of a ramp or the surface of the floor affects the distance a marble will travel. Draw an illustration of the design and record all your data in your science journal.
  • Task 6: Replace the ridged plastic ruler/ramp with a flexible ramp. How does the shape of the ramp affect how far a ball or marble will travel?
  • Task 7: Place a large wooden ball at the end of an inclined ramp. Place a smaller wooden ball at the top of the ramp. Release the smaller wooden ball and measure how far it moves the larger ball after a collision. Experiment with various sized wooden balls to explain how the size of the ball affects collisions and the distances moved.

 

As a Self-Directed Inquiry: Balls and Ramps Student Guide

 

Introduction

This investigation is a self-directed inquiry. Here you will devise your own question, design and carry out the procedures to solve the question, and collect and organize evidence to support or refute the claim or hypothesis made from the question posed. There are assorted balls and marbles in the bag of materials that act as both distracters and enablers. Not all the supplies in the bag need to be used. You will have to determine which items you need to complete the task. The additional materials are expected to stimulate questions to investigate.        

To begin, follow these three steps:

Procedure:      

                        1. Place one end of the ruler on the edge of a block.

                        2. Place the ball/marble in the ruler’s groove as far up the ruler as possible.

                        3. Release the ball/marble.

 

From this initial exploration, consider possible questions to investigate. Choose one question and write a hypothesis for your investigation. Write both the question and the hypothesis on a sentence strip. Post the sentence strip on the wall above your work area. Determine the variables and constants needed, and design an appropriate data table to collect evidence for each investigation. Include a diagram to illustrate your investigation. Carry out your investigation and record all important data in your science journal. Be prepared to provide an explanation as to whether or not your prediction/hypothesis was correct as well as evidence to support or refute your hypothesis.

 

 

 

 

Title:  ____________________________________________

 

 

 

Height

 

Distance marble traveled   

(in cm)

 

Trial 1 #1

 

Trial 2 22#2

 

Trial 3 #3

 

Average

 

2.5 cm

 

 

 

 

 

5 cm

 

 

 

 

 

7.5 cm

 

 

 

 

 

10 cm

 

 

 

 

 

12.5 cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 More Info

17.  Where Can Further Information be Found on Inquiry-Based Learning in Science?

 

References and Related Background Resources

 

Chiarotto, L. (2011). Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers – Building Children’s Understanding of the World Through Environmental  Inquiry. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press Ltd.

Retrieved from   http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca/pdf/NaturalCuriosityManual.pdf

 

Coe, M. A. (2001). The 5E Learning Cycle Model.

Retrieved October 2013 from http://faculty.mwsu.edu/west/maryann.coe/coe/inquire/inquiry.htm

 

Crombie, Scott. What is Inquiry-Based Learning? May 26, 2014

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u84ZsS6niPc

 

Dewey, J. (1910). Educational Essays. London, UK: Blackie & Sons.

 

Etheredge, S. and Rudnitsky, A. (2003). Introducing students to scientific inquiry: How do we know what we know? Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

 

Expert Panel on Literacy in Grades 4 to 6 in Ontario. (2014). Literacy for learning: The report of the expert panel on literacy in grades 4 to 6 in Ontario. Retrieved from http://edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/report/literacy/panel/literacy.pdf

 

Jennings, L and Mills, J. (2009). Constructing a discourse of inquiry: Findings from a five-year ethnography at one elementary school. Teachers College Record 111 (7), 1583-1618.

 

Kozak, S. and Elliot, S. (2014). Connecting the Dots: Key Strategies That Transform Learning for Environmental Education, Citizenship and Sustainability. Oshawa, ON: Maracle Press LTD.

Retrieved from www.lsf-lst.ca

 

Krajcik, J. Blumenfield, P. C., Marx, R. W., Bass, K. M., Fredricks, J., & Soloway, E. (1998). Inquiry in Project-Based Science Classrooms: Initial Attempts by Middle School Students. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7 (3/4), 313-350.

 

Llewellyn, D. (2005). Teaching High School Science Through Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

 

Llewellyn, D. (2011). Differentiated Science Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

 

Llewellyn, D. (2013). Teaching High School Science Through Inquiry and Argumentation, Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

 

Llewellyn, D. (2014). Inquire Within - Implementing Inquiry- and Argument- Based Science Standards in Grades 3-8, Third Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

  

McTighe, J. and Wiggins, G. (2013). Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding.

Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2010). Growing success: Assessment, evaluation, and reporting in Ontario schools first edition, covering grades 1 to 12.  Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/growSuccess.pdf

 

Scardamalia, M. (2002), Collective Cognitive Responsibility for the Development of Knowledge. In B. Smith (Ed.). Liberal Education in a Knowledge Society (pp 67-98). Chicago, IL: Open Court. 

 

Watt, J. and Colyer, J. (2014). IQ A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

 

Asking Rich Questions: Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions

http://hepg.org/hel-home/issues/27_5/helarticle/teaching-students-to-ask-their-own-questions_507

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/help-students-become-better-questioners-warren-berger

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/strategies-for-inquiry-based-learning-john-mccarthy

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/inquiry-based-learning-asking-right-questions-georgia-mathis

http://www.edutopia.org/practice/wildwood-inquiry-based-learning-developing-student-driven-questions

 

The Inquiry Process

http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/inquiry/index.html

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/10/24/the-inquiry-process/

http://www.teachthought.com/learning/4-phases-inquiry-based-learning-guide-teachers/

http://naturalcuriosity.ca/

http://www.lsf-lst.ca/en/dots

http://www.teachinquiry.com/index/Introduction.html

http://www.edutopia.org/inquiry-project-learning-research

http://inquiry.galileo.org/

http://galileo.org/teachers/designing-learning/articles/what-is-inquiry/

http://tc2.ca/

http://resources4rethinking.ca/en Keyword search on inquiry

 

Video Clips on Inquiry

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/reasons-for-inquiry-based-teaching

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/inquiry-based-teaching-flexibility

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/inquiry-based-teaching-roles

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/involving-students-with-inquiry-based-teaching

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/reasons-for-inquiry-based-teaching

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OaIdwUdSxE&feature=iv&src_vid=YsYHqfk0X2A&annotation_id=annotation_995510

http://www.teachthought.com/learning/4-phases-inquiry-based-learning-guide-teachers/

http://www.icels-educators-for-learning.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53&Itemid=68 (Dewey)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr63RDHI-DM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u84ZsS6niPc

 

 

Edugains - Search on Inquiry for More Links

http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/earlyPrimary/primaryresources/inquiry.html - Kindergarten

http://www.edugains.ca/resourcesKIN/SchoolLeader/BuildingRelationships/Inquiry.pdf  - Kindergarten

http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/earlyPrimary/otherresources.html - Early Primary

http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/aer/collaborative_inquiry.html - Collaborative Inquiry

 

Capacity Building Series

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/capacityBuilding.html

  • Student Voice, Transforming Relationships
  • Collaborative Inquiry in Ontario
  • Inquiry-Based Learning
  • Getting Started with Student Inquiry
  • Collaborative Teacher Inquiry
  • Breaking into Inquiry

18 Acknowledgements

STAO Writing Team

Sandra McEwan, Science & Environmental Education Consultant

Sheila Rhodes, Instructor, Faculty of Education, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

 

Project Coordinator

Malisa Mezenberg, Project Innovation Coordinator

 

Reviewers

Corrine Brook-Allred, Pickering

Jill Colyer, Director of Teaching and Learning, Bayview Glen Duncan Mill Campus

 

Copyright Acknowledgements

Chriss Bogert, Vice-Principal, The Laboratory School at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study

Sandy Cooke, Permissions Manager, Oxford University Press

Douglas Llewellyn, Science Consultant & Author, Rochester, NY

Richard Messina, Principal, The Laboratory School at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study

Elaine Rubinoff, Director of Programs and Administration, Learning for a Sustainable Future

Care has been taken to trace the ownership of copyright material contained in this document. STAO/APSO will be pleased to receive any information that will enable it to rectify any errors or omissions in subsequent editions. Send comments to STAO Info

 

©STAO 2016  The material in this document shall not be copied nor reproduced beyond a classroom without the permission of the Science Teachers' Association of Ontario/L'Association des professeur de sciences de l'Ontario. Teachers are permitted to make copies of this document for their classroom use.