Scientific Inquiry Lesson for Kids: Process & Definition

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  • 0:04 What Is Scientific Inquiry?
  • 0:49 Inquiry vs Method
  • 2:05 Scientific Inquiry Process
  • 2:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica McGowan

Jessica is currently a Kindergarten teacher. She has taught for six years. Jessica has a master's degree in Elementary School Guidance.

Do you know what scientists do? They use scientific inquiry to study the world around them and explain things based on what they find out. This lesson defines scientific inquiry and explains the process of scientific inquiry.

What is Scientific Inquiry?

Are you a curious person who always wants to know more? Do you think about why something happened, ask questions, and make observations? Do you investigate things that interest you? Do you share what you learned with others and explain how you were able to answer your own questions? If so, you use a type of scientific thinking known as scientific inquiry. So, what exactly is that?

Science is all about learning and understanding something new. Inquiry means to ask for information or investigate something to find out more. So, scientific inquiry is using evidence from observations and investigations to create logical explanations and answer questions. Scientific inquiry is for people who want to be challenged and use creative and critical thinking to answer questions related to science.

Inquiry vs. Method

There are some major differences between the scientific method and scientific inquiry. First, the scientific method seeks to answer one question, whereas scientific inquiry does not. After investigations, explanations, and evidence, the scientist often thinks of more questions that need answering.

Second, the scientific method is linear, meaning the step-by-step process is done in the same order each time. It usually consists of six steps: question, observation or investigation, hypothesis, experiment, analysis of data (reviewing what happened during the experiment), and conclusion. Scientific inquiry, on the other hand, is non-linear, which means it does not follow a consistent step-by-step process. It can be any order of asking questions, conducting investigations, collecting evidence, developing explanations from the evidence, and communicating and defending conclusions.

Finally, the last step in the scientific method is communicating the results at the end of an experiment. For instance, after an experiment on the effects of mixing chocolate syrup with orange juice, you might write a paper and defend your findings at the school science fair. With scientific inquiry, however, constant communication is necessary throughout the entire process, from start to finish, not just to tell and defend your results.

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