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What is Inquiry?

What is inquiry
What is Inquiry?

And what does it look like in the classroom? 

What is Inquiry?

Inquiry-based science is a teaching approach that encourages students to explore scientific concepts through hands-on investigations, questions, and critical thinking. This process is driven by the learner’s curiosity and sustained by their sense of ownership of the process. But curiosity and ownership alone are not enough to ensure a productive experience that leads to deeper understanding. A well-thought-out structure and guidance by an educator can give shape and direction to curiosity.

Inquiry Structure 

Inquiry Starters

Learners explore materials, make observations, and raise questions related to content goals. Inquiry Starters are activities intended to:

  • Engage the learner’s curiosity about phenomena related to content goals 
  • Stimulate a range of questions that learners can pursue in their investigations
Focused Investigation 

Learners plan and carry out investigations based on their questions. Small groups plan and carry out investigations based on questions raised at the Inquiry Starters. Investigations might involve: 

  • Interacting with materials 
  • Making observations 
  • Proposing tentative explanations 
  • Making predictions and testing them 
  • Revisiting questions and explanations in light of new observations 
  • Recording and representing thinking through writing and drawing
Sharing Understanding 

Learners share investigation results with each other to further their understanding of scientific concepts.
This is an opportunity for learners to examine their ideas and share their experiences, including: 

  • Giving participants time to consolidate ideas and figure out how to communicate what they’ve learned to others 
  • Encouraging investigation groups to build upon each others’ ideas to arrive at an understanding of key science concepts 
  • Having facilitators summarize key science concepts by drawing upon ideas presented by investigation groups