Unit 4 Inquiry in Project-based Science classrooms

This page last changed on Jan 23, 2008 by wikiadm1.

Science Inquiry

Unit 1 Introduction

Unit 2 How to Implement Inquiry in Science Teaching

Unit 3 Curriculum Design Principles for Science Inquiry

Unit 4

Unit 5 Wrap up and Evaluation

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Learning Objectives of this unit

By the end of this unit, you should be able to:

  • Understand the characteristics and the features of inquiry projects;
  • Understand the procedure of design the inquiry projects;
  • Analysis the given lesson plans that exemplifies how to carry out the inquiry project in science teaching;
  • Choose to design your own inquiry projects.


Five aspects of inquiry project

  • Asking questions: making predictions, drawing on background knowledge, judging worthwhileness and feasibility.
  • Designing investigations and planning procedures: deciding what variables to use, creating designs, defining measurements to make, managing data collection.
  • Constructing apparatus and carrying out ivestigations: building apparatus, making observations, taking measurements, recording data.
  • Analyzing data and drawing conclusion: transforming, analyzing, and interpreting data, drawing conclusions.
  • Collaborating and presenting findings: exchangeing informatin, sharing and clarifying ideas, giving and receiving assistance and feedback, creating artifacts, presenting finding.

Contrary to the step-wise scientific method taught in traditional classrooms, inquiry project is not a linear process; aspects of inquiry interact in complext ways.

Case study

How students asked questions, planned and designed procedures, constructed apparatus, carried investigations, interpreted data and drew conclusion, and presented the findings?

In the article below, you will read a synthesis of case studies of 8 students as they engaged in inquiry during two projects that spanned several months. It details how students asked questions, planned and designed procedures, constructed apparatus, carried out investigations, interpreted data and drew conclusions, and presented the findings. It aslo indicates how collaboration among group members and support from the teacher influenced this process.

Inquiry in Project-Based Science Classrooms: Initial Attempts by Middle School Student Joseph Krajcik; Phyllis C. Blumenfeld; Ronald W. Marx; Kristin M. Bass; Jennifer Fredricks; Elliot Solowal The Journal of the Learning Sciences, Vol. 7, No. 3/4, Learning through Problem Solving. (1998), pp. 313-350. (Access restricted).

Task

The following projects are all Inquiry projects. Choose one of them to write down your own project plan according to the format you have learned from the reading in the case study.

  • Force and motion ---Eighth Grade: Designed for use in eight grade, students explore the question "Why do I need to wear a bicycle helmet?" Through the exploration of this question, the learner develops an integrated understanding of Newton's laws of motion, force, velocity, and acceleration, and the relationship among force, mass and acceleration in the context of being pitched off their bike, getting injured, and learning how helmets work. Technology use includes probeware.
  • Basic Chemistry Principles---Seventh Grade: This air quality curriculum unit engages 7th grade students in an extended inquiry into the question "What is the air like in my community?" This inquiry provides students with a rich and meaningful environment to conduct investigations, learn relevant science content, and develop understanding of an environmental issue, air quality. In the context of learning about air quality, the learner develops an integrated understanding of science concepts such as composition of air, states of matter, chemical versus physical changes, chemical reactions, acids and bases, atoms, elements, compounds, and mixture. Technology
    includes probeware and modeling software.
  • Water Ecology---Seventh Grade: The water ecology project engages 7th grade students in an extended inquiry into the driving question "What is the quality of water in our river?" In the context of learning about water ecology, learners construct an integrated understanding of science concepts such as ecosystems, watersheds, rivers, biodiversity, macro invertebrates, biotic index, bio-indicators, topography, and various water quality tests, such as fecal chloroform, pH, and dissolved oxygen. Students use probeware, World Wide Web and computer modeling tools.

Review

Five aspects of Inquiry Project: asked questions, planned and designed procedures, constructed apparatus, carried investigations, interpreted data and drew conclusion, and presented the findings.


Preparation for next unit

Before you go to next unit, reflect on what you have learned in this course. Please write down a summary of your thoughts in the part of "Comment" of this page.

Click here to go to Unit 5 Wrap up and Evaluation.