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We need suggestions on Parachutes (redesigning an activity). We did it yesterday as part of a 2 day workshop with teachers (grades 4-10). Day 1 was Ice Balloons and it went incredibly well. They all seemed to appreciate the value of intriguing materials, the chance to mess about, and the importance of generating your own questions. They sorted questions, 'turned questions' and did mini investigations. The discussions were wonderful. They said that going through the process got them excited and gave them the questioning skills and confidence they need to try student-directed (inquiry) activities in their classrooms. They seemed to 'get it'! Day 2 was parachutes. We suggested that they could use ice balloons as a model. They worked through the activity (establish criteria, review the list of criteria, do the activity, evaluate it, and redesign it) in teams of 3. During the redesign they kept busy discussing, building, and testing ideas and parachutes. When we all got together for the final discussion we were stunned to hear ALL the groups say that they thought the activity was pretty good as it is! They would start with the guided activity, (maybe leave off the explanation), and then let the kids generate questions after that. They felt that it fulfilled their criteria and those on the list we handed out. They resisted our suggestions of opening it up at the beginning (they lamented: scheduling, giving up control, not enough time, materials, etc, etc, etc,). Are we unreasonable to be discouraged that they were all playing it so safe and traditional? We were surprised and disappointed because they had spoken so well to the value of student-led investigations after ice balloons. Now they were all very content to frame the experience and pose the initial question. Some of them do very little hands-on now, so are we asking too much? But some are the science specialists in their schools and we had hoped for more risk taking from them! Have others had similar experiences? Could it be influenced by the way the activity is presented, similar to peoples reaction to Foam: the order that they first did it in often seems to be the best to them? In this workshop experience we gave them: messing about first with ice balloons and for parachutes it is guided, then opportunity to mess about. Does anyone think that having a group discussion about what they've identified as the most important criteria for an "inquiry" experience BEFORE they do the parachute activity, evaluation, and redesign would NOT be a good idea? There are so many criteria on the sheet that deal with hands-on rather than the key elements to inquiry. I guess we want to try to 'guide and direct' them to our way of thinking (#2,13, and 14 are primary in my mind)! Is this wrong? Am I being narrow minded? We are doing this workshop again on Mon and Tues. with another set of teachers. Any comments or suggestions would be welcome. Thanks, Denise LeBlanc and Jill Foster Science Discovery Museum

Denise LeBlanc and Jill Foster
Acton, MA USA - Friday, January 08, 1999 at 12:18:12 (PST)

Internet. I am planning an inquiry workshop and decided to use parachute design as my vehicle. I searched the web for background information and found this site. Terrific!

Adela J. Dziekanowski
Chatham, NJ USA - Thursday, June 25, 1998 at 22:41:20 (PDT)

this is really interesting that you can do all of this stuff over the internet.

cheryl weiner
york, pa USA - Thursday, January 29, 1998 at 10:24:05 (PST)


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