Inquiry-based learning is not about memorizing information. Students become life-long learners when they know how to ask questions, analyze the information and data they gather, and develop appropriate resolutions to problems. “So it’s really understanding the origins and where that knowledge comes from that is profoundly important for the process, for children to learn… They need to learn to ask ‘how do we know if it’s true’ and ‘is it true’ and ‘should we look at it another different way.’ ‘Where is the evidence?’ Without that, the factual knowledge is not very useful.” – Karen Worth of the Educational Development Center, commenting in Learning Science Through Inquiry.
So how do we teach our students to do just that? Here are some examples of building inquiry skills in science classrooms from Annenberg Learner:
- In the workshops for Learning Science Through Inquiry, watch teachers guide students to explore their questions and find meaning and purpose in their science investigations.
- Discover why providing students opportunities to use inquiry strategies is essential to learning, and view inquiry-based teaching strategies in Looking at Learning…Again, workshop 4.
- Journey North’s Menu of Inquiry Strategies lists a variety of activities that allow students to pursue their intellectual interests. Students learn to think like scientists by developing hypotheses, planning experiments, asking questions, reviewing data, and considering implications.
- In Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science, the session 8 lesson plan, Electrostatics Exhibits; The Exploratorium, “Open Pathways,” describes students examining the electrostatic properties of materials and asking questions that lead to further exploration of the topic.