At the Exploratorium
Institute for Inquiry our work in science
education is deeply rooted in the belief that human
beings are natural inquirers and that inquiry is at
the heart of all learning. The work that we do with
educators is designed to give them an opportunity
to personally experience the process of learning
science through inquiry. Our hope is that this
experience will stimulate their thinking about how
to create classrooms that are supportive
environments for children's inquiry.
Inquiry is an approach
to learning that involves a process of
exploring the natural or material world,
that leads to asking questions and making
discoveries in the search for new understandings.
Inquiry, as it relates to science education,
should mirror as closely as possible the
enterprise of doing real science.
process is driven by one's own curiosity,
wonder, interest or passion to understand
an observation or solve a problem.
The process begins when the learner
notices something that intrigues, surprises,
or stimulates a question - something that
is new, or something that may not make
sense in relationship to the learner's
previous experience or current understanding.
The next step is to take action
- through continued observing, raising
questions, making predictions, testing
hypotheses and creating theories and conceptual
learner must find her or his own pathway
through this process. It is rarely a linear
progression, but rather more of a back
and forth, or cyclical, series of events.
the process unfolds, more observations
and questions emerge, giving occasion
for deeper interaction and relationship
with the phenomena - and greater potential
for further development of understanding.
the way, the inquirer collects and
records data, makes representations of
results and explanations, and draws upon
other resources such as books, videos
and the expertise or insights of others.
meaning from the experience requires
reflection, conversations and comparison
of findings with others, interpretation
of data and observations, and the application
of new conceptions to other contexts.
All of this serves to help the learner
construct new mental frameworks of the
science using the inquiry process
requires a fundamental reexamination of
the relationship between the teacher and
the learner whereby the teacher becomes
a facilitator or guide for the learner's
own process of discovery and creating
understanding of the world