Description in the Conference Program: Join an inquiring community of learners for a hands-on workshop. Expand your repertoire, extend your network, and increase your understanding of how to accomplish the challenging task of supporting significant learning for others. When focusing on natural science topics, what works and what doesn't? Why? How. Workshop leaders are graduates of ASTC Inquiry Institutes with experience implementing inquiry in their institutions.
Workshop facilitators: Joel McCleary, Nebraska Math & Science Initiative and Univ. of NE State Museum, NE
Molly McLaughlin, Manager of Teacher education, The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia
Susan McWilliams, High Desert Plains Museum, Bend, Oregon
Kani Meyer, Director of Education, Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, Ohio
Lee Schmitt, Coord. of Educational Resources, Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul
Fred Stein, Exploratorium, San Francisco
Greg De Francis, Montshire Museum, Vermont
Format of the session:
Inquiry Science through Natural History
how did we get here
6 small groups of 10
small group reflection
Large group reflection
how did it feel?
what did you learn?
facilitation: "setting the stage", "providing the pushes"
What's next? Continuing our dialogue beyond San Diego
Preparation: Set up took 30 minutes after all materials were assembled.
from both small and large groups)
We enjoyed and learned from dialogue.
Inquiry provides a new focus/content for familiar things.
We used mostly vision.
We value more time to explore this.
"Icebreaker" exercises generate conversation.
Activities focus and intensify interest.
It was exciting to explore without expert to explain.
We had interest in other peoples questions.
Everyone was "right" in their observations.
Living organisms make engaging and difficult subjects.
Time plus patience is needed.
Physical science can also be rich.
Activities allowed us to discover on our own.
There were many limitations of materials (which forces inventing experiments).
Context limits/allows depth of the experience.
Time is important to this.
Understanding human and group dynamics is important.
What we liked:
Making our own discoveries.
Ebb and flow of excitement.
We were given permission to relax while we learned.
The differences between physical/life sciences.
Reproducibility is an issue.
Isolation and control of variables are issues.
Interaction with living organism, which maintained our engagement.
Some of our questions:
Is such intense focus an advantage?
Is it better to start with one material or many? What is the entry point? What am I supposed to do?
What is texture--bumps, if we can't feel it, does it have texture?
How do seeds grow?
Why so much variation, shape, size, texture, color among seeds? I wonder how seeds taste.
How are the insides of seeds similar
What does the adult plant look like; and, is there any correlation between the size of the seed and the adult?
Would all the seeds grow in the same place Is there a correlation between
seedcoat and need for water? How quickly would they [seeds] respond to water?
How do they respond to water and other liquids, temp, sunlight, shade, soil?
What is the lifecycle of these seeds?
Does color of seed have anything to do with what it is?
How are seeds transported?
Why are they [seeds] packaged differently?
What is the function of supporting structures (corn, squash strings)?
Can we make paper from corn husks?
Can you tell by looking at the seed whether it is edible?
Why are there lines in pumpkins, squash skin, corn husk? How do they grow to cause that?
Which animals would feed on what seeds?
Our feelings, emotions:
Nervous, out in the open, exposed.
Frustrated, wanted to do everything.
Tension, lack of clarity.
Initial floundering, which eventually started going to a direction wanted.
To please the teacher, get the right answer wanted to become familiar and comfortable hoping for more difference [between textures of different materials].
Transfer mechanics was discouraging [got caught up in the process, didn't learn much about the material].
Real was better than "recording" [appreciation for real vs. abstracted experience].
I wanted to categorize, but couldn't.
I never made enough sense of the activity, struggled for meaning. Embedded in mechanics.
I felt frustrated; it went to a dead end. I felt I finished the task in 2 minutes. I wanted to collect more stuff, not look at minutia. I wanted to learn about the objects, not the texture. I learned about a procedure, not natural materials.
"Why questions" were preferred by some; others wanted to count how many.
We wanted more tools.
We struggled with technique vs. materials.
Life Science Inquiry Activities
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