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?




Science Encounters


The STAO Science Encounters Project includes a series of inquiry-based STEM activities to support teachers and students with resources to create engaging classroom experiences that cultivate 21st century skills.  Activities for the project include Indigenous ways of knowing while incorporating fundamental concepts that are linked to scientific inquiry and technological approaches to problem solving. 

Science Encounters
Integrated Curriculum Resources
Kindergarten – Grade 8



This resource has been developed by the

Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario/ L’Association des professeur de science de l’Ontario with funding from PromoScience, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada


STAO Writing Team

Sheila Rhodes, Project Manager, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Bonnie Anderson, Peel District School Board

Joanne Arcand -  Halton District School Board

Samuel Hariprasad – Toronto District School Board

Kerri Langer - Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board

Ingrid Munson - Halton District School Board

Susan Philip - Halton District School Board

Joyce Posada – Toronto District School Board

Louise Vaillancourt – Ottawa Carleton District School Board

Teresa Yeh - Peel District School Board



Corrine Brook-Allred

Chris Coyne

Pamela Depooter

Cathy Dykstra

Christina Evans

Sharon Mosko

Shantel Popp

Graziella Sadler

Jacqueline Yuen

Elli Weisdorf

Amy Wen


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

Teachers are permitted to make copies of this document for their classroom use.

©STAO 2015 The material in this document shall not be copied nor reproduced beyond a classroom without the permission of Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario/L’Association des professeur de science de l’Ontario [STAO/APSO]

Critical Thinking

Deepening Student Thinking in Science

The Critical Thinking Consortium has created two documents to support science teachers at all grade levels in their efforts to nurture student thinking and increase student engagement in science. The resources provide practical and teacher-friendly Tips for Teachers that address the following:


Promoting critical thinking in science:

1. What is critical thinking?  What does critical thinking look like in the classroom?

2. Why promote critical thinking in science?

3. When should we invite critical thinking?

4. How can I support critical thinking in science?




  1. Promoting Critical Thinking in Science
  2. Tweaking Questions and Tasks to Deepen Scientific Thinking in Science


For additional information and teacher resources visit:


Tweaking questions and tasks to deepen critical thinking in science:

Examples illustrate how common tasks and questions in science can be enriched using suggested strategies.



Technology Enabled Learning

This Expert Element on Technology Enabled Learning is designed to support teachers find a starting point or next steps in their journey of professional learning. Using this information to help direct your own learning and be sure to check out the Classroom Catalysts to see Ontario teachers in action using some of these digital tools.