Inquiry Science

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					   Science As Inquiry

Deborah Brendel
Science Consultant
Region 10 Education Service Center
What Is Science?

   Think about your own definition for

   Write your thoughts on the index card.
“Lifelong scientific literacy begins
     with attitudes and values
established in the earliest years.”

   National Science Education Standards

   Asking a lot of questions.
   Answering puzzling questions.
   Observing in all aspects of our world.
   Understanding patterns
   Recognizing that there’s often more than one
    way to look at things.

   A topic that requires creativity.
   Realizing that what you see isn’t what you
    think you see and that what seems
    impossible has an explanation.
   Using measurement tools to help percieve
    things accurately.
   Problem-solving.

   Looking at things differently.
   Guessing what will happen if you do a certain
   Approaching from a different direction.
   Trying to understand how things work.
   Trying different strategies before you find
    one that works.
An Inquiry Model Teaching Lesson
                                         I never would have
                                         imagined that it looked
                                         like that!

Establishing Inquiry

   Black Boxes
    –   You will get a box labeled A,B,C or D
    –   Manipulate the box to determine what it might
        look like inside the box if you could open it.
    –   Draw a model of what you think it would look like.
Delphi Groups

   Location of the Oracle of Apollo in Greece
   Revered throughout the Greek world as the site of
    the omphalos stone (the center of the Earth and
   Leaders would travel to delphi to consult w/ the
    oracle to seek truth and wisdom
   Scientists that gather together in a search for greater
    understanding can be called Delphi Groups.
Research supporting Delphi technique

   The Delphi technique is a method for obtaining forecasts from a
    panel of independent experts over two or more rounds. Experts
    are asked to predict quantities. After each round, an
    administrator provides an anonymous summary of the experts’
    forecasts and their reasons for them. When experts’ forecasts
    have changed little between rounds, the process is stopped and
    the final round forecasts are combined by averaging. Delphi is
    based on well-researched principles and provides forecasts
    that are more accurate than those from unstructured groups
    (Rowe and Wright 1999, Rowe and Wright 2001).
     –   Wikipedia
PHASE 1: Confrontation with the Problem

    The problem must be interesting and stimulating to the learner.
    The teacher presents a discrepant or puzzling event.
    The teacher explains the inquiry rules and procedures to the
      – The questions must be answerable by yes or no.
      – The results must be obtainable through observations.
      – Students are asked to make a prediction.
             1. What do you think will happen when you add two grapes to
              liquid that is in a glass?
             2. Ask students to make observations and record at least 4
              questions that they want to ask the teacher about this event.
Discrepant Event “The Grapes of

   Materials:
    –   2 grapes (remove the peel of 1 grape)
    –   Cup of clear carbonated liquid

   What will happen when you add the grapes
    to the glass of liquid?
   Identify 4 questions that you would like
    answered about this event.
Phase 2: Data Gathering - Verification
(Phases 2, 3 & 4 may occur simultaneously)

   The teacher records the information on the
    board. Students may also keep records.
   The teacher must encourage students to
    think deeper about the understanding of the
   It is always okay for the teacher to say, “I
    don’t know, but let’s write the question down
    for further inquiry.”
Phase 3: Data Gathering-Experimentation

   The teacher may or may not have to direct students
    to determine the most relevant and important
   Students introduce new elements into the situation to
    see if the event happens differently.
   Students hypothesize a solution to the problem.
   All data gathering is related to proving or disproving
    the theory.
   Hypotheses are confirmed or revised.
Phase 4: Organizing the Formulating and

   Students explain the hypothesis and
    organize the data to support the hypothesis.
   Students should be able to determine how
    the hypothesis could be tested to see if data
    could be generalized to other situations.
   The teacher may want to ask, “What would
    happen if…” kinds of questions.
Elaboration possibilities

   Will the grapes act differently in an five
    minutes; an hour; overnight?
   Will grapes act differently in another liquid?
   Will other types of grapes act differently
   Will other types of fruit behave the same
   How can I measure the density of these
Phase 5: Analysis of the Inquiry Process

       Students are asked to review the process they
        have just used.
        –   Which questions were the most effective?
        –   Which direction of questioning was the most
        –   What type of information was needed and not
        –   How could the inquiry process have been improved?
        –   Do you have other questions?
From K through 12th
grade, inquiry is the
  thread that binds
science courses and
 programs together.
  NSTA Pathways to the Science
     Inquiry is the set of
  behaviors involved in the
 struggle of human beings
for reasonable explanations
of phenomena about which
      they are curious.
                Novak 64
Inquiry includes activity
and skills but the focus
 is on an active search
    for knowledge or
    understanding to
    satisfy a curiosity.
 Focus on inquiry always
  involves collection and
     interpretation of
information in response to
 wondering and exploring.
Professional Delphi Groups
   Often times in scientific engineering, teams of scientists are
    brought together in order to work on a problem. For example,
    several teams of scientists will be given the task of creating a
    robot that will collect rock samples from the surface of the
   The robot must
    Be durable enough to survive the trip
    Conduct the activity w/ a high degree of reliability
    Be under certain weight allowance
    Be within a certain size allowance
    Have redundant back-up systems in the event of failure in situ
   The team with the best robot by these standards gets the
    contract from NASA to build the robot.
Energy Delphi Group

   You have been hired as a scientist by the
    Department of Energy to develop a windmill
    design that will be the most efficient in
    creating wind energy in TX.
   You must present a model of your windmill to
    the director (your presenter).
   You may use any of the materials provided in
    any innovative way that you wish.
Windmill Requirements
   The windmill must be turned by a
    small fan (provided) on a low setting
    which is placed 1 meter from the
    model windmill.
   To show that the windmill will do
    work, it must lift a load of 1 metal
    washer the distance of 20 cm.
   The example to the right is just one
    idea of how to complete this project.
    Your design may not look like this
    picture, or may have improvements
    on this design. Be creative and
    Inquiry fosters:

   Scientific literacy and understanding of science
   Vocabulary knowledge and conceptual understanding
   Critical thinking
   Positive attitudes about science
   Higher achievement on test of procedural knowledge
   Construction of logic or mathematical knowledge
Essential Features of Classroom

   Learners are engaged by scientifically
    oriented questions
   Learners give priority to evidence
   Learners formulate explanations in light of
    alternative explanations
   Learners communicate and justify their
    proposed explanations
    Truth or Myth?

   All science subject matter should be taught
    through inquiry.
   Inquiry occurs only when students generate
    and pursue their own questions.
   Inquiry teaching occurs easily through use of
    hands-on or kit-based instructional materials.
   Student engagement in hands-on activities
    guarantees that inquiry teaching and learning
    are occurring.
   Inquiry can be taught without attention to
    subject matter.
    All science subject matter should be taught
    through inquiry.

            THAT’S A MYTH

   Effective science teaching requires a variety
    of approaches and strategies.
   Teaching all of science using just one
    method would be ineffective and probably
                                National Academy
                                of Science
Inquiry occurs only when students generate and
pursue their own questions.

             THAT’S A MYTH!
   The source of a question is less important
    than the nature of the question itself.
   However, learning to ask questions is a key
    part of inquiry and should be encouraged.

                                   National Academy of
Inquiry teaching occurs easily through use of
hands-on or kit-based instruction materials.

             THAT’S A MYTH!

   The use of even the best materials does not
    guarantee that students are engaged in rich
   A skilled teacher remains the key to effective
                                    National Academy
                                    of Science
Student engagement in hands-on activities guarantees
that inquiry teaching and learning are occurring.

             THAT’S A MYTH!
   Participation of students in activities is
    desirable, but not sufficient to guarantee their
    mental engagement in any of the essential
    features of inquiry.

                                      National Academy
                                      of Science
Inquiry can be taught without attention to subject

            THAT’S A MYTH!
   Students understanding of inquiry does not, and
    cannot, develop in isolation from science subject
   Students start from what they know and inquire into
    things they do not know.
   Process skills alone are not enough.
   Scientific knowledge is important.
                               National Academy of Science
Benefits of Inquiry

   Promotes active learning through problem-
    solving as students formulate questions and
    test ideas.
   All children should use the inquiry process to
    increase their thinking capabilities.
   Inquiry should be used in all subject areas;
    any topic that can be formulated as a
    puzzling situation is a candidate.
Benefits of Inquiry

   Brings the real world into the classroom and
    into students’ lives
   Promotes teamwork and collaboration
   Accommodates different learning styles
   Students’ grasp of new concepts and skills is
    reflected in their work during the activity.
Avoiding Activitymania

   Content drives the activity, not the other way around.
   Direct teaching is an important component of the
    learning cycle (Explain).
   Without direct instruction, students struggle to
    transfer their concrete experience to abstract
    assessment items.
   Direct teaching should expand on the content
    discussed in the engagement and relate to prior
    learning and connectivity to other content.
Dropping in – The Journey of a water droplet.

   Complete the water cycle journey by visiting
    the stations and recording your stops in your
   Window Pane

   2.10A describe and illustrate the water cycle
   3.7B identify matter as liquids, solids, and gasses
   3/4.3C represent the natural world using models and identifying
    their limitations
Adapt to Survive & Thrive

   Sticky Trait
   Read the Content
   Complete the Sorting Mat
   Conduct the card game
   If time Trait or Taught card game.
  How We Did Overall

      TAKS      Met Standard   Commended

Elementary at      77%           31%
Grade 5

Grade 10           58%           11%

Grade 11           77%           11%
 Average Items Correct By Objective

   OBJECTIVES          2003   2004   2005   2006   2007
1: Nature of Science   76%     83%   86%    87%    85%
2: Life Sciences       74%    79%    81%    85%    85%
3: Physical Sciences   66%    74%    78%    80%    85%
4: Earth Sciences      53%    60%    67%    69%    73%
Elementary Science Blueprint
        Objectives:                  Number Tested
        1. Nature of Science             13
        2. Life Sciences                  9
        3. Physical Sciences              9
        4. Earth Sciences                 9
        Total Number of Items            40
       Met Standard (Approx.)           30/40
     Commended Performance              37/40
     Field Test items (not scored)        10
                                      TOTAL: 50
   Science: Using the Data for Instruction
       ISSUES                                QUESTIONS

District scope and    Isthere a coherent scope and sequence for all
sequence (TAKS        students K-12?
alignment, pacing)    Are TAKS objectives being emphasized K-12?

Vertical/horizontal   Are  the science TEKS taught to the depth and
articulation and      complexity required?
planning              Are the sciences integrated to allow for connected
                      learning of TEKS?
                      Are science teachers planning across grade levels,
                      disciplines, and courses?
Benchmark data        How are we using benchmark data?
                      Is the benchmark process effective?
Resources and         Are hands-on investigations and outdoor field
Laboratory/Field      experiences a regular part of the curriculum in science
Requirements          instruction?
                      Is there adequate funding for materials and equipment
                      to support hands-on laboratory science?
     Science: Using the Data for Diverse Learners
    ISSUES                              QUESTIONS

LEP            Are Limited English Proficient students receiving enough
Students       science instruction?

Special        Are special education students receiving intervention
Education      strategies to ensure learning?
AP Courses     Are AP courses aligned to TAKS?

Gifted and     Are  G/T students receiving differentiated instruction in
Talented       science?
               Are G/T programs reflecting the diversity of your student
Program        enrollment?

Science        Are  elementary students receiving K-5 science?
               Are middle school students receiving science instruction
Instruction    that scaffolds TAKS objectives?
               Are high school students enrolled in science at the 11th and
               12th grade levels?

            Chris Comer -
Step #1 -- ALIGN

   To the TEKS!
    –   Pick and choose sections of your textbook--don’t
        try to teach the whole book
    –   “Clump” TEKS together around topic themes
   Vertically
    –   Talk to the grades above and below
   Horizontally
    –   How does science relate to other content
    –   To different fields of science
Step #2 -- TEACH

   Are students really “Doing” Inquiry-based
   Do students
    –   View themselves as scientists?
    –   Exhibit curiosity?
    –   Propose explanations?
    –   Raise questions?
    –   Use observation?
     Step #3 -- ASSESS
     for Deep Understanding

   Use embedded assessment DAILY
    –   Listen to the discussion in student workgroups
    –   Observe students’ ease in carrying out investigations
    –   Use feedback mechanisms and safety nets
   Benchmark RARELY
What Can Teachers Do?

   REVIEW ALL TEKS Statements
    –   Interpret each into learning experiences for
   Attend Staff Development in identified areas
    of need
   TEACH THE TEKS: Determine what
    mastery would “look like” in the classroom
What Can Teachers Do?              (continued)

   Think about interventions that might be used
    with struggling students
   Develop a variety of ways to explore the
    Student Expectations
   Stay away from “test prep” materials
   Use technology often

   TEKS Toolkit:
   Texas Science
   Region 10 Science
   Science Teachers Assoc. of
 Contact Information

Deborah Brendel
Science Consultant
Region 10 ESC