Providing an Inquiry-Based Science Environment

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  • 0:04 Inquiry-Based Science
  • 0:55 An Inquiry-Based Environment
  • 2:49 ELLs & Exceptionalities
  • 4:30 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

What is an inquiry-based science environment? Learn why it is valuable, how such an environment can be provided, and some of the challenges, especially for English language learners and students with exceptionalities, in this lesson.

Inquiry-Based Science

Science is about investigating and understanding the world, so inquiry (or experiment) is at the heart of science. We would know literally nothing about the world with any surety if we hadn't collected data and analyzed it to make conclusions. So, why do we often teach science in a way that has little or no connection to this process?

An inquiry-based science environment is a classroom where students learn science through completing their own experiments, collecting data, making conclusions, and being guided through the same basic process that scientists follow.

What are the benefits? Well, by following this process students not only learn factual information about the world, but they also discover through example what science is all about.

So, how do you create an inquiry-based learning environment in your classroom?

An Inquiry-Based Environment

There are many challenges to creating an inquiry-based environment in a classroom, but here are some tangible steps, strategies, and techniques that you can implement to achieve this.

At the most basic level, resources can be provided to guide students through the entire process. For example, you could have worksheets that ask unit questions and walk your students all the way from making a hypothesis to analyzing results. You also could do this with teacher-led instruction, with parts of the experiment completed by students in between explanations.

However, a more complete inquiry-based environment is one where students learn to explore questions themselves. Rather than being told what and how to investigate, they are given the freedom to ask their own questions and design their own experiments. They are guided rather than forced in a particular direction. This is harder to implement, and can be far more time-consuming, but it does a better job of teaching the principles of science.

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