Inquiry Based Teaching

Sometimes I start to wonder what constitutes an inquiry based approach to teaching science? Well it turns out that I am not the only one.

Instit4Inq

The folks over at the Institute For Inquiry are addressing some of these issues. The Institute is part of the Exploratorium, housed within San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, the Exploratorium is a collage of hundreds of science, art, and human perception exhibits.

The Inquiry site has a great “foam activity” that helps identify the difference between inquiry based learning and other practices. It is great to see a more direct approach to help educators put an inquiry based curriculum into action.

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18 thoughts on “Inquiry Based Teaching

  1. For this writing assignment I want you to read through the foam activity to get a sense for how they are describing the process. Then choose another science classroom curricular activity, preferably from the Exploratorium site, but you may choose one from your book or elsewhere. Describe both the activity and why it is an inquiry based method.

  2. Laura March
    Edu 7136
    ***Please note on the website for The Institute of Inquiry I could not find foam activity. I did write about constructivism and the use of inquiry in two lessons from the text.

    I believe that elementary school teachers must provide “hands-on” “minds-on” learning experiences for their students. Students must be involved in hands-on activities that help them to develop their own scientific ideas and these activities should involve the different content areas (as much as possible). The teacher should take on the role of a facilitator. The teacher’s job is to mediate the language of science and scaffold learning (just the right amount of guidance to help the student achieve their goal). Implementing the constructivist approach to learning is very beneficial but may be difficult for some teachers and schools due to lack of money, lack of materials, time restraints.

    Constructivists believe in learning through exploration. The text talked about two constructivists in particular, Piaget and Vygotsky. Piaget’s theory states that everyone has schema, an idea or general picture of an object or thing. Our schemata help us every day. We either assimilate new information (modify our schemata) or we use accommodation (we restructure our schemata). Piaget believed in learning by “doing” and as you develop you become more capable of abstract thought. Vygotsky’s theory states that we all have these psychological tools (these culturally developed signs). We use these tools by semantic mediation. This way of thinking and remembering is what separates us, humans, from other animals. Vygotsky believed that as you learn you develop. Your environment and socialization plays a large part in learning.

    The text gave examples of classroom lessons that were hands-ons. It focused on Ms Terrell and her fourth grade class. Her lesson was exemplary. The lesson was very well planned out and focused on Earth and Space content Standard D(observing the moon patterns in the sky). Ms. Terrell got her students to observe, journal (draw and write), and predict the path of the moon. She also used resources such as stories written on the moon and read them to the class. My favorite thing she did was to set up a homemade (required extra time on her part) astronomy dome and had the students do thought the phases of the moon with spotlights. All the students had time to come up with there own theories and predict and also get feedback from other students in the class. The students were interested and active participants in their own learning process. The other lesson talked about in the chapter was a third grade lesson in Ms. Roberts’ class. The students had to build a castle using manipulatives. While I felt this lesson was very hands on and the students were working in groups the students were becoming frustrated after three days of failed ideas. While I strongly feel the teacher should not dominant classroom instruction the teacher needs to giver his or her students just enough support and guidance. Another problem with this lesson was the lesson’s lack of a connection to a specific learning standard.

    I believe that we do not only teach but need to instill an understanding of science in our students. Activities must be hands on and get students involved and responsible for their own learning. I, as a teacher, try to make my lessons interactive and interesting but I feel I can always do better. The Institute for Inquiry is a great site for teachers to use to get ideas and information. The Institute offers workshops that range from The Fundamentals of Inquiry to Classroom Strategies for teaching Inquiry. The workshops are geared to the areas of earth, physical and life sciences. The site is also useful because of it make links to books and articles. Lessons should be geared to students’ interests and group work needs to be used because it is beneficial to all students. Group work helps children accomplish more than they would be able to do alone. They get to listen to everyone’s questions, ideas and observations. Everyone could be observing the same thing but have very different interpretations. I agree that “science” is not just these specific facts but a way to look at the world (through a constructivist’s paradigm). Both students and teachers should be observing the world this paradigm everyday.

  3. Here’s the link to the foam activity because it took me a few minutes to find:

    http://www.exploratorium.edu/IFI/activities/foam/foam1.html
    —————–
    The activity I chose was “Ice Balloons: Exploring the Role of Questioning in Inquiry”.

    The activity begins with establishing the setting and reviewing the steps involved with the activity. The first step is to observe the ice balloons and generate a number of questions. “Ice balloons also offer a mixture of the aesthetics and science of examining frozen water, blurring the line between what is art and what is science”. After observing, the activity moves to investigating a question and developing criteria to distinguish investigable and non-investigable questions. Small Groups are put together to review these questions and discuss. One of the objectives of the activity is to have a non-investigable question and turn it into an investigable question (process called “turning”). After discussing in the small groups, a large group discussion takes place to “reflect on the process of raising and turning questions, the value of criteria for investigable questions and the role of questioning in the classroom”.

    One of the ways we explore aspects of science is by questioning. It is an integral part of the scientific method. “The questioning process lies at the heart of all scientific work, and is the driving force in inquiry”.

    This activity uses an inquiry based method by helping teachers (participants) develop their questioning technique. Participants can use the Ice Balloon activity as an example for developing an environment for raising investigable questions in the classroom. Science is all about questioning. When a teacher can learn how to facilitate questioning, they can pass this knowledge and process onto their students. This activity helps in raising and moving questions towards independent investigations.

    This activity is great because it gives the opportunity to develop questions during an activity. This is a skill that students will need to know when they are doing experiments in science. Because this activity is so engrossing, it allows the opportunity for participants to develop many questions. Ice balloons are extremely interesting, and they invite a number of questions that move towards the “big ideas” of science. And it helps that the activity is adaptable to any grade.

    The activity allows the teacher “to discover the students’ ideas, identify their investigable questions, and help develop student ideas towards the big ideas of science. For professional developers, the activity can help teachers to more deeply understand the role of questioning in inquiry”.

  4. I read the foam activity and found during my readings that most of the teachers involved in the experiment disliked the inquiry-based teaching foam activity; they preferred the guided foam activity or the challenge-based foam activity. Via inquiry-based learning, students discover knowledge themselves by questioning why the events of the activity happened. I understood why these teachers did not prefer the inquiry-based method as I had thought that it may not be the best way to teach all the students since some students may not have well-developed analytical skills and may not gather the knowledge the teacher had hoped they would via the activity. Is it more important that the students gather knowledge or develop the analytical skills? With this in mind, I began to search for another inquiry-based activity.

    I went back to the Exploratorium site and chose “Parachutes”. For this activity, each team works to redesign the parachute activity to meet more of the criteria on the list, that is, to make it more inquiry-based as opposed to guided. Participants move back and forth between planning ways to adapt the parachute activity and testing out the possibilities through actual experiments. It was interesting to find that the Parachutes Discussion states “all the groups say that they thought the activity was pretty good as it is! They would start with the guided activity, (maybe leave off the explanation), and then let the kids generate questions after that. They felt that it fulfilled their criteria and those on the list we handed out.” I, however, remembered a similar activity one of my teachers at St. John’s conducted whereby the students had to cut out paper ghosts and try to make them spin like helicopters. The ghost activity also included the possibility of adding weights to the paper to see if that would help (ie., paper clips, taping pennies). After a few tries, students realized that they could make the ghost spin if they bent the hands in opposite directions producing the helicopter effect. In comparison to this ghost activity, I felt the parachute activity was too guided, too time-consuming, and that they could have had a much better inquiry-based learning experience with the ghosts as opposed to parachutes. At the end of the ghost activity, it was the students who found the knowledge and that is why it is an inquiry-based activity. In addition, with respect to the ghost activity, you did not need highly developed analytical skills to gather the knowledge; it was just “messing about!” Here, the constructivist approach can be implemented inexpensively and easily.

    The foam activity states (1) that people often believe that this exploring or playing-around stage (also sometimes referred to as the “messing about” stage) is all that there is to inquiry, leaving off the other important parts of hypothesizing, testing, analyzing, drawing conclusions, and developing theories that fit with existing understanding and knowledge and (2) that it is important not to allow this activity, which focuses much of its time on “playing,” to contribute to the belief that inquiry is about play and not a process of making real and valuable discoveries and progress. Therefore, once students surpass the “messing about” stage, teachers should encourage their students to pursue questions, draw conclusions from their findings, and develop theories for why something happened. I believe this is where a worksheet can be handy. Students can write down their ideas and share them with the class in order to develop the scientific idea behind the experiment. What a great way to teach kids!

  5. After reading the foam activity, I had a better sense as to what the inquiry based method was all about. Many teachers believe that an inquiry based lesson is simply hands on activities. This, however, is not the case. A teacher cannot simply give a student something to play with and call it inquiry. The inquiry based method is part of the constructivism approach to learning. Constructivism is an approach to teaching that says that individuals learn better when they are constructing knowledge and not just receiving it (p. 23). It puts the student at the center of learning, and allows the student to learn by exploration and hands on activities. Students are asked to explain their thinking and reasoning, make hypothesizes, and draw conclusions. Constructivism also involves the student making connections between concepts in order to facilitate learning.

    I felt as though the lesson given in the textbook was a perfect example to an inquiry based lesson, and one of which many of us can relate to. This lesson is for a fourth grade class and covers the Earth and Space Content Standard. Learning about the moon and our solar system and creating visuals is something many of us can relate to. The objective of the lesson was for students to discover the changes in the moon over the next few months. The word “discover” really caught my attention when reading this objective. This is really what inquiry is all about. It’s about the student discovering things on his or her own, and not simply given facts to memorize. This lesson consists of a student centered approach to learning, for it gives students the opportunity to think, analyze, predict, and make connections.

    The teacher Ms Terrel asks the students to observe the moon over the next few days and keep a science journal on what they see. They should both write and draw in this journal. Ms. Terrel tells the students that they should read children’s books about the moon, research the internet, and read the paper for any predictions that they may come across. They are then asked to discuss with the class what they came across and develop their very own theories. Ms. Terrel is doing everything right. She is asking the students to observe, predict, analyze, and draw conclusions. The students are thinking for themselves and learning through exploration.

    Ms. Terrel then involves the students in an activity in order for them to learn more about the phases of the moon. She takes the students inside the astronomy dome by allowing the children to be actively involved. She has students hold up different kinds of balls to represent the moon and earth, and a flashlight to represent the sun. The students can see what happens throughout the month when the moon is traveling around the earth. The students then engage in discussion about what’s going on and see if what they have seen in class matches what they have seen in real life. This activity is wonderful because the students are truly active learners. They are learning by doing. Students are able to really understand and see how the moon changes, which is something that they probably couldn’t get from a textbook.

    This lesson is truly inquiry based. Ms. Terrel is merely the facilitator and is allowing the students to gain knowledge through experimentation and analyzing their data. She sat back and let the students discover on their own. Some students, especially young ones, can’t learn by just reading a textbook or listening to a lecture. Students need to have hands on and visuals. They need to things to be put in simple terms. This inquiry based lesson gave students the chance to develop connections and be excited about learning. Teachers should create lessons based on their students interests, and teach in a way where the children are going to participate and what to learn. I wish my science classes in elementary school were more science based, perhaps I would have learned a lot more. As a teacher, I’m going to have a constructivist approach to teaching and put the students first.

  6. Laura March
    Edu 7136

    ***Revised copy with the foam activity. Thank you Kathlene for posting the link.

    I believe that elementary school teachers must provide “hands-on” “minds-on” learning experiences for their students. Students must be involved in hands-on activities that help them to develop their own scientific ideas and these activities should involve the different content areas (as much as possible). The teacher should take on the role of a facilitator. The teacher’s job is to mediate the language of science and scaffold learning (just the right amount of guidance to help the student achieve their goal). Implementing the constructivist approach to learning is very beneficial but may be difficult for some teachers and schools due to lack of money, lack of materials, time restraints.
    Constructivists believe in learning through exploration. The text talked about two constructivists in particular, Piaget and Vygotsky. Piaget’s theory states that everyone has schema, an idea or general picture of an object or thing. Our schemata help us every day. We either assimilate new information (modify our schemata) or we use accommodation (we restructure our schemata). Piaget believed in learning by “doing” and as you develop you become more capable of abstract thought. Vygotsky’s theory states that we all have these psychological tools (these culturally developed signs). We use these tools by semantic mediation. This way of thinking and remembering is what separates us, humans, from other animals. Vygotsky believed that as you learn you develop. Your environment and socialization plays a large part in learning.
    The Foam Activity was a great example to me of constructivist learning/teaching. The activity was broken up into different stations which varied in the amount of guidance they gave the teachers/students. The class was broken up in different groups that rotated from station to station. The guided activity station gave the teachers/students more of a direction to what they were suppose to finding out. It included a worksheet that lead the teachers through the activity and gave them questions to focus on answering. The challenge station, I believe, is perfect for students that are advanced. Even if the students aren’t up for the challenge alone, working in groups allows them to accomplish more. They can discuss their observations and make inferences together on the best way to build their foam tower. The inquiry activity station, I believe is necessary because it really gets the students/teachers to take their questions to a higher level. These open-ended questions can lead them to want to discover and answer questions that the teacher may have never thought of. At the end of the rotation of all these stations the students/teachers meet back and form jigsaw groups (groups of people who have done the stations in a different order) to discuss their findings. This allows people to discuss their different observations and how doing the stations in a different order may effect you findings. I really liked this activity I felt that it had components that would meet the needs of many different types of students. Some students like structure so they would enjoy the guided activity station, some students like to be free to explore and discover on their own and I believe that all students thrive hands ons activities which are performed throughout all the stations. I also believe a very big part of constructivist learning is giving students time for reflection and discussion. The only downfall to this activity besides that much planning and materials are needed is the fact that it may be frustrating for a student who did the challenge and inquiry stations to go last to the guided activity station. These students may find the structure of this station to restrictive after be able to think out of the box.
    The text gave examples of classroom lessons that were hands-ons. It focused on Ms Terrell and her fourth grade class. Her lesson was exemplary. The lesson was very well planned out and focused on Earth and Space content Standard D(observing the moon patterns in the sky). Ms. Terrell got her students to observe, journal (draw and write), and predict the path of the moon. She also used resources such as stories written on the moon and read them to the class. My favorite thing she did was to set up a homemade (required extra time on her part) astronomy dome and had the students do thought the phases of the moon with spotlights. All the students had time to come up with there own theories and predict and also get feedback from other students in the class. The students were interested and active participants in their own learning process. The other lesson talked about in the chapter was a third grade lesson in Ms. Roberts’ class. The students had to build a castle using manipulatives. While I felt this lesson was very hands on and the students were working in groups the students were becoming frustrated after three days of failed ideas. While I strongly feel the teacher should not dominant classroom instruction the teacher needs to giver his or her students just enough support and guidance. Another problem with this lesson was the lesson’s lack of a connection to a specific learning standard.
    I believe that we do not only teach but need to instill an understanding of science in our students. Activities must be hands on and get students involved and responsible for their own learning. I, as a teacher, try to make my lessons interactive and interesting but I feel I can always do better. The Institute for Inquiry is a great site for teachers to use to get ideas and information. The Institute offers workshops that range from The Fundamentals of Inquiry to Classroom Strategies for teaching Inquiry. The workshops are geared to the areas of earth, physical and life sciences. The site is also useful because of it make links to books and articles. Lessons should be geared to students’ interests and group work needs to be used because it is beneficial to all students. Group work helps children accomplish more than they would be able to do alone. They get to listen to everyone’s questions, ideas and observations. Everyone could be observing the same thing but have very different interpretations. I agree that “science” is not just these specific facts but a way to look at the world (through a constructivist’s paradigm). Both students and teachers should be observing the world this paradigm everyday.

  7. “For this writing assignment I want you to read through the foam activity to get a sense for how they are describing the process.”

    *Foam Experiment*

    I believe I now have a greater understanding of inquiry based teaching because of chapter 3 and the foam experiment on the exploratorium website.

    “Station 3” takes advantage of children’s natural curiosity. Having more than one substance allows them to experiment with multiple chemical properties and reactions.

    “Then choose another science classroom curricular activity, preferably from the Exploratorium site, but you may choose one from your book or elsewhere. Describe both the activity and why it is an inquiry based method.”

    *Ice Balloons*

    I chose the “Ice Balloons” activity.

    [1] The teacher gives her students an ice balloon. She asks them to find out as much as they can about how it behaves. She offers some suggestions: put it in and out of the water, put things on it (salt, ink), try to break it, try to sink it, etc. Essentially, the students have free range, within reason of course.

    [2] The teacher asks her students to write down their observations and one question about the ice balloon’s behavior.

    [3] After the students are done experimenting, each group is asked to choose one of the questions they’ve raised.

    [4] The students determine the criteria for investigable and non-investigable questions.

    [5] Each group attempts to turn a non-investigable question into an answerable one. If they are successful, they must explain how they managed this.

    [6] The full group discusses strategies to “turn” questions.

    The “ice balloons” activity uses an inquiry based method because while the students were given a general setup to trigger their learning, they were allowed to guide their own learning from that moment on. They were allowed to freely experiment using multiple modifiers and situations, observe phenomena (aka: the result of their experimenting) and raise their own questions and form tentative conclusions. The students are given greater control over their learning and the knowledge they internalize goes through a more “organic” process, where they are involved in every step of the way.

    The textbook describes this type of inquiry-based teaching as “learned-directed.” The teachers guide their students, but are not intrusive. This type of learning promotes discussion and creative/critical thinking.

  8. The foam activity is an inquiry based procedure due to the fact that it explores many different aspects of foam. It is not simply about soap and bubbles, but rather which types of ingredients can be added to the foam to change its physical characteristics. The foam activity included things like whipping a batter of soap at two different strokes: one at 200 beats and one at 600 beats, to see which batter will result in a higher foam tower after the experiment is completed.
    There are other elements involved with this experiment besides the foam and its height. The ingredients in the foam, the particles that make the foam thicker and creamier or lighter and fluffier.

    In the textbook, chapter 2, page 21, the experiment conducted by Ms. Roberts’ students Ana and Michael, consists of building a castle. The students planned to build a two story castle but had run into a problem because the resources that their teacher had provided, were not sufficient enough to actually hold the castle together at two stories high.
    The benefits of inquiry based learning in this situation, was to teach the students not just about the specifics of the experiment, but about fundamentals that are important in life in general. This experiment taught them about problem solving and ways to trade thoughts and ideas. The most significant aspect though, was that the students were strengthening their problem solving skills, which is a major element in science. The teacher in this scenario and similar to the foam activity, is a facilitator. The teacher is not simply handing out instructions, he or she is providing the assignment, the resources/materials, and allowing the students to be creative and work in different strategies. In the actual definition of the word ‘inquiry’ it clearly states “the activities that students engage in to help them construct knowledge”, and both of the above stated experiments illustrate the inquiry method.

    It is about which of those ingredients cause the foam tower to be taller than the other tower which does not have those ingredients included. This is engaging the students in an activity which forces them to think about different phases of an experiment.

    Inquiry based procedures like the ones mentioned above, clearly support the Constructivist theory, which explains that students learn best when they are actively learning. Note the word ‘actively’, which does not mean reading out of a text book, or doing a simple experiment like planting a seed and watching it grow over time. Although that is a commonly used experiment, it is not as hands-on as the other two.

    I also believe that if the experiments are assigned according to the appropriate age group, the way that Jean Piaget describes as “stages of development”, the child will explore and gain knowledge with things that are at his or her level. The teacher also benefits from this as they can see which activities are more enjoyable and which ones work better with which age group. The teacher also can attain a better grasp at exactly which assignments/activities will make their class better learners, more critical thinkers and in result, more successful in their future grade levels to come.

  9. The foam activity made me realize as well that in order for an activity to truly be inquiry-based it is not enough for that activity to be merely a hands-on group activity. Now I understand that it takes more than that, more questioning, creation and discussion are involved while at the same time the teacher acting as a scaffold for the learners. Looking through the various activities in our textbook, I thought that the cornstarch activity (on pages 74-76) is a good example of an inquiry-based activity as it shares many of the characteristics listed in the Foam Activity article we read.
    The cornstarch activity I feel is a good example because it appears that there is facilitation however, the teacher really never has control of what the students will uncover while being engaged. Furthermore the students themselves are the ones creating the different scenarios of what will happen to the mixture while they complete the activity, which in the end will determine their learning. After the students play around with the mixture they begin to further seek what may happen, what they can alter etc. The curiosity of the students and the questioning they go through throughout the activity is the driving force, which as the Foam article points out is an important aspect of an activity being inquiry-based. The cornstarch activity I thought also exemplified an inquiry-based approach to a hands-on activity as it allows the students to use their senses and observe what happens to the mixture; it also allows students to discuss any of their developing theories as well as any of their hypotheses while collecting their data and finally communicate their findings.
    As teachers we may find ourselves giving our students hands-on activities in all subject areas, which are not necessarily unrelated, but they do not give our students all that inquiry-based activities do. Using the approach we read about, I think we can give our students the opportunity to collaborate, learn and teach them how to question what is going on and all the “what-ifs” when looking at a situation or even an object. I truly feel that it’s a great approach in conducting in-class activities, as it is a great way to motivate our students to think outside the box, and not just merely memorize textbooks and lectures. By using this approach I think we are helping them understand and relate as well as actually see what is going on, whereas when we tell them something happens the students do not get to see what is happening and they may not truly comprehend the phenomenon. For me growing up, being able to relate what I was learning in a science textbook to a real life situation was crucial in understanding a concept. I think its great that we can show our students not only what is happening, but what they themselves can create and how they can alter situations.

  10. The science classroom curriculum I chose was Parachutes from the Exploratorium site. In this activity the students had the opportunity to take existing materials and adapt them through a series of experiments based on their questions and a criteria they formulated.
    At first the students had to create a criteria for evaluating and adapting to this activity. The students would picture an excellent activity and base the criteria on those characteristics. Then the students would perform the preliminary parachute activity. In the activity the students would follow the directions on how to create a standard parachute and record its results. Next the students would evaluate the activity according to the criteria the students created. This allows them to see what needs to be changed or developed upon to meet the criteria. After that the students would try to redesign and adapt the parachute activity using their prior knowledge and new materials. They would test all the different possibilities to meet the criteria through actual experiments. Finally the students would re-evaluate. At this time the students could discuss and share their ideas of their redesigns and reflect on the process.
    I believe that this was a wonderful activity for an inquiry based method. For starters the students were the ones creating the criteria. After the initial experiment with the parachute they also came up with many questions. It’s those questions that stimulated the students to experiment more. Their curiosity was intrigued. The second experiment allowed them more engagement and creativity for they also had to plan before redesigning. Their discussion at the end also opened them to other’s ideas and may have stimulated them again to further investigate. This activity allowed the students to learn through their exploration and that is inquiry.

  11. The foam activity was extremely interesting to read about and really sheds light on the concept of inquiry based instruction. The way the activity was laid out was particularly intriguing because these facilitators seemed as though they had some preplanned expectations of what was to come in their findings. Having three very different activities using one substance was a great way to see how different the reactions would be from each teacher doing the activity. Each of the three stations made it possible for the participants minds and observations to run wild, while the facilitator aided in their inquiry process. This activity is a great example of constructivism in the classroom. The foam activity is very student centered and allows for the participants to make observations on their own and their results are going to be based on their specific learning styles.

    I just recently began working in a Montessori school and it is very inquiry based and promotes constructivism at an early age. This method of teaching helps the students become independent and the use of inquiry based instruction is used daily. The teachers ( there are 7 due to the age level of the kids) act as facilitators while the students go about doing their daily activities. I think it is a very idealistic way to teach.

    The activity that I chose was directly from the book (since I couldn’t find the other site) and it was the example of Ms. Terrell teaching about the phases of the moon (pg.26). This is an inquiry based example because the students were asked to observe the moon each night, keep a journal, and make predictions as to what they think is going to be the next phase. At the end she brought all the students together and had them discuss what they found out and generate ideas about the phases of the moon. This was inquiry based because the students were given an opportunity to devise their own thoughts about the phases based on what they observed and what they already know about the moon. By bringing them back together, the different learning styles, observations, and learning styles help enhance the lesson and promote positive discussion while the teacher plays facilitator. While I do agree with this style for the most part I do think teachers need to be a little more than “facilitators” in the classroom, especially at younger ages.

  12. I believe that the constructivist approach is a good hands-on approach to teaching science. This approach uses different activities to promote students curiosity and questioning. This approach helps students construct there own knowledge of the topic they are being taught. It promotes students to make sense the knowledge that is developed through hands on activity. This type of approach requires the teacher to take on a role of a facilitator.
    The chapter discussed two constructivists Piaget and Vygotsky. Piaget was focused on the construction of knowledge. His theory stated that everyone has a schema. He believed that the learning process had two parts one was assimilation and the other was accommodation. Vygotsky created a social historical theory. He believed that children did not mimic what is taught to them but they are affected individually by the environment around them. Vygotsky stated that we all use psychological tools called semantic mediation to assist in remembering. He believes this is what separates us from animals.
    The two activities I choose to compare are the Foam Activity and the Ice Balloon.
    In the Foam Activity there were three stations. Each group would rotate from one station to the next. Station One was called the Guided Foam Activity. This activity was more structured it included a worksheet and a set of question that needed to be answered. Station Two was called Challenge Foam Activity. This activity asked the group members to investigate the best way to build a foam tower and write their observations. Station Three was called Inquiry Foam Activity. This activity asked members to experiment making foam with different materials to gather observations and draw conclusions that can be further discussed or investigated.
    The Ice Balloon activity uses a frozen water balloons. Students are divided in groups and given an ice balloon. They are then instructed to do experiments and write down their questions. They are then instructed to choose one investigatable and one non- investigable question and have a group discussion on developing criteria questions for each. They are also instructed to turn their non- investigable question into investigable questions. These questions then need to be using in a group discussion to generate strategies.
    The Ice Balloon and Foam activities are both inquiry based activity because they demonstrates how a hands on lessons can be used to spark the curiosity of students. By allowing the students to investigate and come up with their own questions they were able build on the knowledge they already had and construct new knowledge using observation, testing, and hypothesis.

  13. The foam activity is an inquiry based process that provides students with 3 different hands on approach to learning science. The first section allows a group to complete a worksheet provided, on the second section, a group is asked to build a tower of certain minimum height out of foam and the last station explore foam and other related materials. With this approach, students are able to develop a better knowledge and understanding of the different scientific ideas through experimentation.
    I choose an activity from the textbook which i believe is a good example of an inquiry based activity where in Ms. Roberts science class, Ana and Michael have been trying to build a castle for 3 days, the reason it took so long was the fact that they wanted to build a castle with strong walls. However, the materials that the teacher contributed were not good enough. Therefore the walls will never stand tall.
    The students were a bit frustrated and lost confidence in their ability to succeed. The teacher on the other hand was pleased with their performance, because obviously they are doing science.
    What Ms Roberts really wanted to prove was the fact that a hands-on approach is an appropriate way to describe school science. Hence she wanted the students to collaborate, help each other, transfer their knowledge, solve problems, and engage in writing and use manipulative. In addition to that, she would be their facilitator to guide, direct, observe, listen and offer her support to them so as to help them to reach their desired goal in building a castle.
    This activity is an inquiry based method, as it does not involve the process of a teacher lecturing to students using a text book and requesting that they memorize the facts, but is more of a constructive teaching where students gain knowledge through exploration and active learning. Thus, requires a hands-on, minds-on approach to science where students are involved in communication and problem solving and are required to think and explain their reasoning thus using their knowledge and understanding gained to apply and connect to different subject areas.
    I do believe every school should be involved in this approach, to help students to develop that love for the subject, to take responsibility for their own learning, to explore and venture and to realize the important roles science play in their daily lives.

  14. I chose the Parachutes: Evaluating and Adapting Activities Towards Investigations Activity.
    ACTIVITY
    The Parachutes Activity involves all participants establishing a criteria for evaluating and adapting activities on how to make a parachute. The participants are divided into groups of four and asked to evaluate the activity based on established criteria. The group re-evaluates the criteria and makes adaptations, share information, and discussions/reflections are made on how the activity might be improved.
    WHY IT IS INQUIRY BASED
    The activity employed various features of inquiry based learning which included: participants had a chance to hypothesize, generate questions, communicate with one another during discussions, and explored through ‘hands-on’ activity (making a parachute).
    MY REFLECTIONS
    When I read the activity and steps involved, I found it to be practical. I thought of the activity’s implementation within a science classroom setting will provide students opportunities to formulate questions, identify and explore various areas they may be curious about, which are essential features of inquiry classrooms. As future scientists this will be very important for the students. Also, this kind of lesson can be helpful in assisting students to establish their own procedures on how to compare and contrast ideas, make predictions, make conclusions, and interpret data. These are characteristics of the nature of science. I believe these skills are essential and should be applied in each science classroom when applicable. I also believe that this activity can assist students to communicate and justify their proposed explanations and share their responsibility in their own learning.

  15. I chose the Parachutes: Evaluating and Adapting Activities Towards Investigations Activity.
    ACTIVITY
    The Parachutes Activity involves all participants establishing a criteria for evaluating and adapting activities on how to make a parachute. The participants are divided into groups of four and asked to evaluate the activity based on established criteria. The group re-evaluates the criteria and makes adaptations, share information, and discussions/reflections are made on how the activity might be improved.
    WHY IT IS INQUIRY BASED
    The activity employed various features of inquiry based learning which included: participants had a chance to hypothesize, generate questions, communicate with one another during discussions, and explored through ‘hands-on’ activity (making a parachute).
    MY REFLECTIONS
    When I read the activity and steps involved, I found it to be practical. I thought of the activity’s application within a science classroom setting; its implementation will provide students opportunities to formulate questions identify and explore various areas they may be curious about, As future scientists this will be very important for the students. Also, this kind of lesson can be helpful in assisting students to establish their own procedures on how to compare and contrast ideas, make predictions, make conclusions, and interpret data. These are all process skills/characteristics of nature of science. I believe these skills are essential and should be applied in each science classroom when applicable. This activity can also be able to communicate and justify their proposed explanations, share their responsibility in their won learning.

  16. Kerry Wright EDU 7136
    Dr. Gillespie Reaction Paper II

    The foam activity outlined in the article did have many aspects of inquiry based learning. The activity requires hands on exercise to develop knowledge. The activity also outlined differentiated instruction which is important for all of the students to have success with the project. The article carefully outlines the materials needed and ways to facilitate the class discussion about the observations which will lead to new discovery for the students.

    Although this project had many aspects inquiry base learning I felt the ultimate aim or goal for the project was not communicated. If we are to have hands on activities and increase knowledge through observation, exploration, and discussion, there needs to be a final product for accountability purposes. This article lacks that part of inquiry base learning. It has many suggestions and information to organize the students but lacked information about the ultimate goal or aim of the project.

    Below is an activity that I feel better fits the criteria for inquiry base learning. The students have to research and explore as in the form activity. However, the project below requires a final project that is unique for each student.

    The project required that the class be divided into groups. Each group has to research the food pyramid and the requirements of a balanced diet on various web pages. Each student in the group has to design three meals a day for five days. The meal plan had to be designed so that the basic nutritional needs were satisfied. The students also had to make a budget for the meal and then construct graphs that compared the students’ meal plans within each group. The task requires that the students collect newspaper food advertisements and make an oral presentation on the menus they constructed. The students also have to prepare one meal on the menu to share in the class.

    I do feel this learning activity meets the needs of inquiry base learning more than the foam project. The aim or goal is to teach the nutritional information to students in a fun and exploratory manner. The students have to research information, had to build on their knowledge of math by making a budget and research information on food prices. They also had to do group work and compare the different menus developed. This activity requires higher order thinking and higher order thinking is the goal of inquiry base learning and the constructivist approach.

  17. The science classroom activity I chose was an example from the textbook which I thought was a great way to demonstrate an inquiry based approach of learning. The example I choose was students observing the changes in the moon. The reason I consider this to be a good example of an inquiry based method is because it involves making predictions as well as daily observations based on interpretation of the moons phases. I felt this was a highly student center lesson where children gain knowledge through observations and active learning.

    Over the course of a few months, students were told to examine all the different phases of the moon. They were then instructed to draw and describe the moon as they see it each night. During this time period, children will be asked what changes they noticed. Does the moon always appear to have the same color and size? I think this is a great lesson because kids enjoy keeping a journal with sketches and interpretation of each stage as well as comparing and contrasting their observations with their peers.

    At the end of this moon activity, Ms. Terrell will have the students discuss what they observed and create conclusions based on their study. As you could see, teaching this lesson through an inquiry based method engaged the students in the research and exploration process of the moons phases. At the same time, it allowed the instructor to support the lesson by using resources like reading engaging books, bringing in an astronomy dome and explaining terms like full, crescent and quarter.

    From my past student teaching experiences, I have found that inquiry-based instruction improves student achievement as well as expands their critical thinking skills and overall understanding of the subject.

  18. Inquiry based activities are a teaching technique that allows students to discover scientific ideas through activities. Some activities are structured, while others are not, but the key to the students learning from this technique is allowing them to discover on their own. Inquiry based activities are all hands-on however; all hands-on activities are not necessarily inquiry based. A good inquiry based activity; is hands on with simple materials, students are paired up or in small groups, given questions that ask them to describe what they are seeing and explain it in their own words, and allow them to investigate things they are interested in. Student really benefit from this type of learning environment.

    This foam activity is inquiry based because it allows the observers to explore and discover on their own. Provided with the materials needed to do the experiment, they must figure out ways to produce foam and change its characteristics based on the materials they have and how the combined and mixed the together. Allowing them to work in small groups helps them ask the right questions. They can bounce ideas off one another, so they can come up with a logical explanation on why certain things are occurring. Another inquiry based activity is the ice balloons. During this activity the students are divided into small groups and given and ice balloon to complete the assignment. They were instructed to explore the balloon and to come up with questions and answers that explain what they had observed. This activity allows the students to learn on their own through their discoveries, and this is what makes it an inquiry base science activity.

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