Science + Inquiry Based Teaching = Super Learners!

     As part of my course at the New England Aquarium, I have homework.  This week's homework involved reading an article:  Using Inquiry-Based Teaching... by Paula Magee and Ryan Flessner and sharing our insights on their ideas.

     How do you teacher science?  Have you had professional development about teaching science?  Does your administration provide you with sufficient and usable resources to teach science?  If so, you are not alone!  This article reviews and supports a new and improved way to teach science:  Inquiry Style Science!

     Inquiry science is a collaborative approach to teaching and includes these five steps:

1.    Use “Thinking Starters”

The first step of this strategy is a fun and engaging hands-on activity that introduces/review the science topic.  After the activity, students generate questions stemming from the activity.

Here are my students building levees to prevent flooding in hurricane prone areas:
Click here or on the picture to read more about this amazing activity!

2.    Listen to Children’s Ideas

In this step, the teacher listens (and documents) the students’ own ideas.  It doesn’t matter if their ideas make sense, the teacher needs to accept these ideas to tease out misunderstandings and to know what needs to be taught/reviewed next.

Teachers can and should continue to use the content standards that are expected as well as enable their students to have a “scientist-like” experience.  In the real world, scientists solve problems and decide how to proceed in order to solve the problems.  By incorporating the principle of listening to student 
ideas, teachers can then allow and guide their students to solve the problem needing to be solved.

4.    Develop Complex Questions

In this step, students “dig deeper, make connections…like the real questions that scientists pursue.”  Of course, my students never run out of questions to ask!
5.    Document and Reflect

Students now write and/or draw the important details they discovered during this whole inquiry-based process in order to remember and be able to revisit their findings.

My Thoughts
     I LOVE inquiry-based teaching and learning!  I did cringe though when I read how science used to be taught using a textbook and learning vocabulary ~ that’s how I’ve been teaching science for years.
     Luckily, we’ll be starting a new program next year:  STEMscopes!  This new program utilizes hands-on experiences throughout the whole learning process.  At the end of last year, we completed the Weather and Climate unit.  My students’ favorite part was building a levee to prevent a flood.  The kids worked in small groups, and they all figured out how to prevent the water from breaking the levee (although some needed a second try!).  In addition, we received all the materials needed to construct the levee which was an enormous help!

      What about you?  How do you teach science?  What program do you use?


  1. Great post! And I LOVED reading about the levees. I plan to try that next year. In my district, we've received almost no training. We've been focusing on PD around Writer's Workshop and Reader's Workshop. We've slowly started to get some supplies, but we really need to update our curriculum. STEMscopes sounds pretty cool. Our school is going to subscribe this year to Mystery Science. Not exactly a curriculum, but a good resource nonetheless. Thanks for sharing!
    Laughter and Consistency

    1. I know! That's why I took a Science class this summer so I can feel a little more prepared. Science and social studies end up on the back burner ~ although I think social studies will always be my favorite!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Back to Top