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TNLI: Action Research: Curriculum Implementation: Teaching Science through Inquiry-Based and Hands-On Practices

Our Teacher Research: Past & Present

Helping all students achieve higher standards

Teacher preparation and new teacher induction   Ongoing teacher professional growth   Teacher networks
Teacher leadership in school change   Helping all students achieve higher standards      

Teaching Science through Inquiry-Based and Hands-On Practices

By Leslie Ann Gravitz, Main Elementary School, Santa Barbara, CA.
E-mail Leslie

Introduction to Action Research:
During the 2001-02 school year, I decided to teach the California fourth grade science standards through hands-on science with an emphasis on student questioning and discovery, not lecturing and memorization. Using inquiry-based teaching and learning, students are encouraged to formulate their own questions, complete observations, make conclusions, and support their conclusions with evidence. I had been looking for an opportunity for the students to have more active experiences and less paper and pencil tasks, and science seemed to be the perfect subject for hands-on learning. With the pressure increasing to achieve state standards and raise a school's Academic Profile Index (API), my goal was to complete the California Science Standards in the four domains of physical sciences, life sciences, earth sciences, and investigation and experimentation through inquiry-based learning. 

During this time, I also served as a MetLife Fellow with the Teachers Network Policy Institute, a nonprofit education organization that connects public school teachers around the country. As a fellow, I am required to do a year-long action research project in my fourth-grade classroom, so I decided to study the effects of my inquiry-based teaching methods. Action research is a powerful tool for teachers that allow us to use our classroom as laboratories to gather and disseminate information about what is it like on the front lines of education. Through action research, teachers like me are able to use their voices and experience to influence education policy. 

Even though it was a temptation to "just teach" the material rather than allow students the time to explore, I carved out a specific time each week for learning through exploration throughout the year and gauge student and parent reactions to my methods. 

I taught a multicultural fourth-grade class that consists of 20 Latino, two Asian, and eight Anglo students. Of the 20 Latino students, there were eight English Language Learners (ELL); three Resource Specialist students; one speech and language student; and a GATE (Gifted and Talented Education Program) cluster consisting of six students. 
For my science sessions, I partnered with Dr. Gregory Kelly of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Graduate School of Education. A teacher-researcher, Dr. Kelly and his graduate students did ethnographic research in my classrooms several years ago. The experience had been wonderful, so I contacted Dr. Kelly and asked him to come back into my classroom for the year to work on science. By partnering with Dr. Kelly, my students experienced resources and people outside of our regular school environment. Miriam Polne-Fuller, a researcher from the U.C.S.B. Marine Science Institute, also supported this project with valuable input.

Rationale for Action Research
The California state standards say that "under the domain of investigation and experimentation, scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations." 1

A large number of the standards can be taught through lecture and memorization. For instance, a standard reads: "Students know the role of electromagnets in the construction of electric motors, electric generators, and simple devices, such as doorbells and earphones."2 To "know" does not necessarily mean to understand. Selecting the correct answers on a multiple-choice means that a student knows the facts but not necessarily that the student understands the concepts. 

Review of Previous Research:
There are two widely used methods of teaching: lecturing and recitation. During lecturing, the teacher presents the knowledge, and students memorize facts and procedures. Evaluation usually consists of short-answer and multiple-choice questions and teachers asking rhetorical questions. Recitation, which is closely related to evaluation, involves the teacher asking questions to determine student knowledge (initiation), listening to the answers given (response), and determining the correctness of these responses (evaluation). This is sometimes called IRE.3 As with lecturing, the teacher primarily judges students' responses and students produce answers that they think agree with teacher expectations. During recitations, teachers generally ask questions where the answers are already known.4 

At the opposite spectrum is student-generated discussions and inquiry-based learning. Students "construct knowledge with one another by asking questions and explaining their understandings. Such knowledge involves more than memorizing facts, executing procedures, or comprehending complex topics; the students often formulate key issues for consideration. During student-generated inquiry discussion, teacher questions are rare but student questions occur frequently and spontaneously."5 In this environment, students play a more active role in learning. 

The benefits of student questioning has been emphasized in the National Science Education Standards, which say, "Inquiry into authentic questions generated from student experiences is the central strategy for teaching science."6 The Benchmarks for Science Literacy and the National Science Education Standards advocate a hands-on approach to science with emphasis on inquiry based approaches.7 Teachers can assist student learning and help refine student ideas by encouraging student work in small group settings by asking such questions as, "What is your evidence for that idea? What was your observation? What might you infer from that observation? Does it make sense that .? Do we all agree that .?" 8

Both the National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy also address scientific literacy and advocate science as a way to prepare youth for their future by helping them understand scientific and environmental issues facing the world. The National Science Education Standards state:

"All of us have a stake, as individuals and as a society, in scientific literacy. An understanding of science makes it possible for everyone to share in the richness and excitement of comprehending the natural world. Scientific literacy enables people to use scientific principles and processes in making personal decisions and to participate in discussions of scientific issues that affect society. A sound grounding in science strengthens many of the skills that people use every day, like solving problems creatively, thinking critically, working cooperatively in teams, using technology effectively, and valuing life-long learning. And the economic productivity of our society is tightly linked to the scientific and technological skills of our work force." 9

Therefore, the purpose of science, according to the National Science Education Standards is multifold. John Wright concludes, "In both set of standards, a central strategy for attaining literacy is to engage students in meaningful inquiry, including experiments requiring inquiry over extended period of time, so students experience the highs and lows of success and failure that characterize authentic problem solving.Inquiry, which is central to the process of reification, is a central feature of the standards." 10 

The Benchmarks (AAAs, 1993) and the National Science Education Standards both emphasize professional development, economic support, and teacher input as necessary for a real change to occur in the teaching of science and the fulfillment of the national standards. Often, the standards require experiences and knowledge that has not been part of administrator's or teacher's backgrounds as students or professionals.11 The standards require teachers to experience and master the same skills and attitudes needed by the students for authentic inquiry learning. 12

I used the concepts I drew from the standards and benchmarks, such as encouraging student inquiry, using student generated discussions, encouraging scientific literacy, and supporting teacher development, in my teaching and action research.

Action Research Tools
I obtained data from videotapes of small group settings and whole class settings, student journals, parent surveys, teacher observations, five student case studies, and poetry students wrote about science.

Science sessions were usually held weekly for approximately an hour and a half. All sessions were taped of both small group and whole class discussions. The student journals included student data keeping, diagrams, observations, evidence, conclusions, reactions, and essays. A survey was sent home to parents in both Spanish and English asking them to evaluate what had occurred during science instruction this year. I conducted observations that occurred not only during the designated science time, but also throughout our daily activities, since students often discussed science throughout the day. I also noted my students' responses and reactions to whole class, small group, and individual work and analyzed their poems to gauge their learning.

I studied the following five students of varying linguistic, cultural, academic, and leadership skills more closely to gauge the effects of inquiry-based learning: 

Student One: An assertive English Language Learner (ELL) with strong leadership skills. It was her first year in an all-English classroom. She arrived from Mexico the proceeding year (third grade).

Student Two: A student identified as part of the Gifted and Talented Education Program (GATE). She is an avid reader. She started out the year more as an observer than leader.

Student Three: A student receiving speech and language assistance. He was reticent to volunteer in whole group discussions, had difficulty communicating ideas in a whole group setting, and was still transitioning to English.

Student Four: A student identified as a Resource Specialist student. This student also has problems with language development, and she came to this country at around the age of seven with a deficit in language development due to a lack of exposure to language even in her primary language.

Student Five: This student is bilingual, has high goals for herself, and has announced that she plans to be a doctor and attend Harvard when she grows up.

Data and Analysis
Factual and Evidential questions
Inquiry- based learning guides the student to actively seek out information and take responsibility for his or her own learning, a stated goal of the National Education Standards and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Questioning is a strong indication that children are thinking "outside the box" and developing science literacy. 

Factual questions occurred in my classroom, which were identified by one or more of the following characteristics:

a. Observations of less than thirty minutes used to gather evidence and answer the question.
b. A "yes" or "no" response can answer the question.
c. A definition can answer the question.
d. The answer requires research in only one domain and does not require extensive reading. 
e. An experiment that can be accomplished between 6-10 minutes and can answer a student question.

An example of a factual question is: 

"Is the crab really dead?"
Evidential questions that occurred had one or more of the following characteristics:
a. Observations beyond thirty minutes are required to get evidence and answer the question.
b. Answers require knowledge across several domains.
c. Often asks, "Why?"
d. The answer to the question often raises more questions than answers.
e. Experiments take more than ten minutes but usually occur over hours, days, or weeks.

An example of an evidential question is: 

"Why did the crab die but the sea anemones did not?"
In analyzing the number and types of questions, I was able to study the thinking processes of my students. Factual questions seem to be a beginning point for inquiry-based learning. Evidential questions seem to extend learning, because they require more inferential thinking and discoveries across different domains. Students must do more research and apply new information to past learning and experience.

I transcribed an hour and a half video of small groups observing pyrosistis under microscopes. Pyrosistis are marine unicellular photosynthetic organisms. One whole group analysis was in the domain of physical science of electricity and magnetism. Three whole group analyses of questions were done in the area of life sciences. The first was done with alginate beads. Children combined calcium chloride and alginate. By doing this, they were able to observe how the sugar (alginate) combined with the calcium to form balls. This project introduced to them the concept of primary producers, how they make their own food, and how alginate and calcium combine to give structure to such sea plants as seaweed. 

I also asked whole group questions about the class salt-water tank. Creatures were gotten from U.C.S.B. Marine Institute and observed over a two -week period. Students asked questions asked about pysrositis in whole group discussion. They not only observed pyrosistis under the microscope, but they also took a test tube home of pyrosistis to observe with their families. This was an opportunity for an extensive observation as some pyrosistis were still alive after more than a month. Lastly, I recorded the five student case studies of questioning in life sciences, including alginate beads, pyrosistis, and sea tank.
In the small group discussions, 80% of the questions were evidential. The range on whole group evidential questions was from 57% for questions on pyrosistis to the 80% on alginate beads. The total number of evidential questions asked for physical and life science was 64%. In the individual case studies, both case study one (ELL student), case study two, (gifted and talented education student,) and case three study (speech and language student) asked 64% evidential questions. In case study four (resource specialist student), the student asked 53% evidential questions. Case study five (bilingual, gifted and talented education student) asked 83% evidential questions. 

It was very interesting to me that children were asking both factual and evidential questions. I used their questioning as an indicator that they were becoming active learners and not passive receivers of information. I could tell the students had learned more than in my previous science lessons because of the quality of the questions they were asking. In this inquiry-based classroom, students seemed to formulate excellent questions. For example, one student asked, "Is a Venus Flytrap Plant, a primary producer or a secondary consumer since it is a plant but eats flies?"

The classroom atmosphere seemed to encourage students to ask questions and then look for evidence to support their learning. It is also important to remember that although evidential questions require more evidence and inferential thinking, factual questions are also important for science exploration and seem to function as an entry point to the higher level evidential questioning. 

Parent Surveys
The parent survey showed that parents were very pleased with this fourth grade science program. Ninety percent of the students talked more to their parents about science, liked science more in general, and enjoyed the science program in school more this year than in the past. Ninety-seven percent of the parents felt that the students learned more in science this year while 93% reported that their children preferred to come to school more on science day than any other day of the week. Nearly 70% of the parents reported that their children asked them more questions about science than they had in the past. 

The majority of the students shared with their parents what we studied in both physical and life science. Ninety-three percent of the students had talked to their parents about physical science (electricity, electrical circuits, and magnets,) while 86% of the students had discussed with their parents our life science (sea tank, alginate beads, web of life, primary producers, primary and secondary consumers) at the time of this study. Even though we had just begun our discussions of the school science fair at the time of the survey, 76% of the students had already communicated with their parents about it. From the survey, I found that the children were split fairly evenly on their preferences between physical and life science.

The surveys also showed that parents supported the collaboration with Dr. Kelly, UCSB researcher. Parents wrote that science became more interesting because the program included more hands-on experiences. A parent wrote, "Guest teachers are an asset to any program, but Dr. Kelly's manner encouraged inquiry. I think that he helped the students a lot because they learned more science." Another parent said that he "most definitely brings true hands-on experience to the classroom. Dr. Kelly became sort of a super hero." When asked if they would suggest this partnership with the researcher-teacher next year, comments were extremely positive. One parent responded "Yes, hearing and talking about college is important, but actually knowing and talking with someone from U.C.S.B. has brought the college experience to the fourth grade. It's never too early!" Other examples of what parents wrote are: "Of course, because it entertains the kids and helps them learn science better than a book might teach them. Dr. Kelly makes science fun for the kids." "Yes, what a great program! Let's keep inspiring our youngsters!"

Parents also made it clear that the program had made a difference in the lives of many of their children. Although it was not a stated goal of the California fourth grade science standards, parents reported that the program increased their child's awareness of the environment and science in the world. One parent reported, "She has learned about ocean life, its creatures, the environment, and how to protect it." Another parent said, "He understands more about electricity and also was much more interested in looking in tide pools when we went to the beach." 

Other parents reported that their children learned more science, and extended their learning outside of school. A father said that science "has made her more interested in watching shows on the Discovery Channel and the Nature Channels." 
Based on parent responses, I saw that the inquiry-based, hands-on science program encouraged students to share with their parents, enjoy science more, want to come to school for science, and ask more questions about science than in the past. 

Student Work
Case Study One (ELL, English Language Learner): This student wrote about her positive reactions to science in her journal. "I have a lot of fun in science, and I like to learn things I don't know. We do the things instead of just look at a book, and when we finish we talk about it. I do like science because it's important to me. I remember the first time that I tried to make a light bulb light up with a battery and some wires. After a long time, it actually worked. I sure love science."

She was also able to apply her learning to the world around her when she discussed science and safety issues: "It is safety if you don't fly kites near wires because you can get electrocuted. It is not a good idea to put your fingers in a switch because you can get electrocuted or shocked, and you could have to go to the hospital or you could even die. It's safety if you don't get your hands wet and touch wires. You should be careful."
I observed that she was often a leader in small group work, eliciting questions from the other students. Furthermore, she was an active participant in whole group discussions and seemed very excited each week about science day.

Case Study Two (Gifted and Talented Program Student whose primary language is English): This student was more of an observer than class leader at the beginning of the year. She chose to write a letter to a future fourth grader, and her scientific knowledge and enthusiasm are illustrated by excerpts from this letter: 

"I can guarantee you that if you get Mrs. Gravitz next year; you will have a really fun year in science. My favorite thing that we learned was photosynthesis. The way that cycle works is the trees have something in them that all plants do. It is called chlorophyll, and it makes plants green. The chlorophyll sucks in the sun, carbon dioxide, and water. Once it has all of those ingredients, it feeds it to the plant that eats it. After sucking in all that food, the tree gets full. So, it gives out oxygen. We breathe in the oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, which the tree sucks again. Photosynthesis is an interesting process. My favorite science selection was learning about atoms. I liked it because I could teach my parents about them since they forgot. I thought the nucleus, protons, neutrons, and electrons were really cool. Working with Dr. Kelly made school more interesting."

The parents of this student reported that this was the first time she had had such a complete program in science. They said she shared a lot of information with them at home, and that she was excited about her learning. For this student, an inquiry-based, hands-on science program encouraged further questioning, research, experiments, and leadership skills. She became an active leader not only in science but also in all areas of the curriculum.

Case Study Three (Speech and Language Student): Because this student had language difficulties, science gave him a new way to learn and to express his skills and talents. He asked a lot of evidential questions (64%) in his journal, a number equal to the gifted (GATE) student and the English Language Learner who actively spoke up in class. Without this hands-on science program, I would not have learned about this child's particular gifts. He was eager to work with electrical circuits, look at pyrosistis under the microscope, observe the life changes in the aquarium, and draw detailed, accurate pictures of what he learned.

An excerpt from his journal shows his desire to be a scientist:

"I like to do science because when I grow up, I want to work in U.C.S.B. I want to study about animals that live in the ocean. Mrs.Gravitz and Dr. Kelly bring animals of the ocean and we study the animals. I think that science is important for the people. This year in science we learned about pyrosistis, magnets, safety, decomposers, generators, compasses, world magnetic forces, and atoms."

Case Study Four (Resource Specialist Student): This student's background initially made it difficult for her to process language and communicate, but she seemed highly motivated to achieve. She had conflicting opinions about her work this year: "In science, I enjoyed trying to make circuits the most. I enjoyed making circuits because it was difficult. When things are too easy, it's boring. Sometimes when I do science, I feel bored because sometimes it is too easy. I feel happy when I make things work. When we were trying to make light and it worked, I was excited. I learned about electricity. You can make electricity with wires and light. I also learned about circuits. If you use a light bulb, a battery, and wires, you can make light. I also learned about magnets. Magnets attach to metal things."

The poem of this student uses similes and creates a picture:

Pyrosistis can glow like lightning or shine like the sun.
Pyrosistis can be the stars, because they turn blue.
If you were pyrosistis, you could have fun turning like lightning.
You could be blue like the stars in the sky and the blue water too.

Case Study Five (Gifted and Talented Program Student whose primary language is Spanish): This student did not volunteer very much at the beginning of the year, but began to participate a lot during science discussion time that carried over into other curriculum areas. At the end of the year, she actively expressed her opinions, answered questions, and asked a lot of evidential questions. Of all the case studies, she asked the most evidential questions at 83%. She wrote in her journal:

"I learned many things in science. I learned that creatures in sea tanks sometimes don't get enough oxygen. For example, a crab we had in our classroom died because he didn't get enough oxygen. After Crabby died, we learned that the other sea creatures were eating him. It was great learning about the sea tank." 

Science also inspired the following poem by her:

Science is Great!
Science is like birds singing in the air.
Circuits are like yellow roses blooming on a summer morning.
Pyrosistis are like light bulbs shining in a sunny afternoon.
Alginate beads sit in a jar full of water while the sun is shining up in the light blue sky.
The magnets are sitting in a dark pencil box like stars in a dark sky.
Chlorophyll stays in plants while rain starts pouring to the ground.

In addition to the five case studies, many other students wrote about their positive experiences and what they learned in both their journals and in their poetry. I was amazed at the quality and content of so many of the poems written by the children. Many poems dealt with science being a part of everyday life, as shown below:

I am part of the web of life creatures big and small.
I am part of the web of life sizes short and tall.
I am part of the web of life but I'm not so scared.
I am part of the web of life where everything is so paired.
Now there are boats floating by leaking gasoline.
So, I hope it's just a dream, a very terrible dream.

A final poem sums up what every teacher would hope students would feel about science:

Science is Life: (Dedicated to Dr. Kelly)
Science is life. Science is living
Science is what creates the web of life.
If you were to go inside science
You would see lights turning on and off
Sparks shooting all around
And magnetic forces attracting and repulsing each other.
Although you see that
You would also see someone teaching
Teaching children science.
Science they won't forget.

The student journals demonstrate not only the knowledge of subject matter but also their enjoyment of science. While the poetry pieces contain scientific information, the students also capture themes such as the web of life, beauty of science, and the responsibility of man through vivid words, metaphors, and similes. This evidence also demonstrates one way that science can be connected to and serve as a stimulus for the language arts curriculum.

Videos of Small Group Work
The following conversation between small group members, Dr. Kelly, and me while the students look through their microscopes gives a good snapshot of the inquiry-based method of learning:

Student A: "What do pyrosistis eat?"
Student B: "They don't eat anything."
Student C: "They're living!"
Dr. Kelly: "It moves." 
Student A: "How come the line does not go away?" 
Dr. Kelly: "Do you know what the line might be? Look here and see what happens when you move that. The line is a pointer. Now you can show (Student Name)!"
Students: "Mrs. Gravitz, Mrs. Gravitz, look. It is really cool."
Student A: "(Student Name) discovered something in the microscope."
Mrs. Gravitz: "Oh, my, that is one of the most incredible things I've ever seen in my life!"
Dr. Kelly: "They found that without me. That's incredible!"
Student A: "I can't stop looking at it. It is amazing."
Student C: "Dr. Kelly I can see it. Should I do the question or picture first?" 
Dr. Kelly: "What would you like to do first?"
Student C: "Questions."
Dr. Kelly: "When scientists do work, there are many ways to do good work."

When studying the small group video, it was apparent that the interaction between students, Dr. Kelly and me consisted of mutual respect and joint exploration. I also found that I benefited by observing my students, because I was able to see how my students all took on different leadership qualities. By teaching using inquiry-based methods, my students felt more comfortable taking on leadership roles during different hands-on activities. They even volunteered to go into other classrooms to help with science and share their learning. 

Researcher-Teacher and Teacher Interaction
Working with Dr. Kelly was a valuable experience for me and my students. Dr. Kelly taught science concepts I did not understand, since I had not had formal science training in decades. As a true inquiry-based teacher, Dr. Kelly had me raise the questions and try to find the answers. The questioning was hard, and sometimes I just wanted to say, "Tell me. Show me." However, I truly got the training the National Education Standards recommend; I had the same experience of learning science that I provided to my students.
During our classroom teaching, Dr. Kelly took a leadership roll in providing materials, resources, lesson ideas, and encouragement. I still led whole group discussions, maintained our usual classroom structure, and was the teacher in charge of the classroom. 

As a result of our partnership, Dr. Kelly and I shared the excitement of seeing our students ask questions, look for evidence, and carry their learning far beyond the California fourth grade standards. For instance, when children begin asking questions like, "What does the combination of alginate and calcium chloride have to do with the web of life?" or "Does the alginate in seaweed combine with calcium to give the plant its structure?" both Dr. Kelly and I witnessed these children becoming scientifically literate and developing thinking skills that would serve them well in all areas of life.

Policy Recommendations
Based upon the research done in this study, I formulated the following four policy recommendations that will improve the teaching of science standards, help students to acquire science literacy and allow them to develop the thinking skills to be active learners across the curriculum.

Implement the goals of the National Science Standards NOW!
Science Literacy, as defined by the National Science Standards, is more than memorizing facts. It is preparing children for higher level thinking and taking their role as informed citizens able to understand environmental issues, think outside the box, and creatively contribute to the future of the world. Educators and the public must promote the goals stated in the National Science Standards. 

In 1993, the Benchmarks for Science Literacy called for a hands-on, inquiry- based program of science in public schools. Now, in 2002, we are instead placing even more emphasis on pencil and paper tasks and achieving high test scores on multiple-choice state tests that do not require higher level thinking. Hopefully, it will not take another Sputnik "emergency" for us to realize that a curriculum in science that promotes thinking and exploration will produce adult citizens who will be able to deal with the future needs of the world.

Train teachers to teach science and other subjects using inquiry-based, hands-on methods. 
Most teachers, like me, did not have the opportunity during their education to approach science or other subjects through inquiry-based learning. It is essential to have quality in-service training woven into a teacher's day, similar to how my work with Dr. Kelly was a part of my day. I should also note that teacher training is advocated in the National Science Standards. As teachers become more experienced and trained in inquiry-based science, they will be able to use this to raise student achievement. 

Allocate money for equipment and materials necessary to carry out this program. 
Because I had a partnership, I had access to materials such as high quality microscopes, a sea tank, and electrical equipment. Funds must be allocated for hands-on materials and training teachers.

Facilitate partnerships for teachers in public education.
Having an outside expert in science help plan lessons and work with the students improves the science program by allowing students to form a new beneficial relationship, providing content and expertise that most classroom teachers have not developed, and helping to provide materials.

Give teachers a voice in curriculum planning.
Many teachers now do not have an active voice in curriculum. I believe that science should be taught as part of an entire curriculum and used as a springboard for other types of learning. During this year, science served as a stimulus both for reading development and writing. The children produced beautiful poetry based on their experiences. With more preparation, this program could have also served as a stimulus to learn the content standards of mathematics. We are given teacher manuals and often instructed to follow them exactly. When teachers help to create the curriculum and have an opportunity to fulfill standards by hands-on exploration, they become excited about what they are teaching. Students pick up this excitement and also become more involved in their learning. Yes, standards need to be taught, but there are many roads that lead to the same destination. Inquiry-based, hands-on science can be a major part of the science curriculum.

Teaching science through inquiry-based methods proved to be a wonderful, rewarding experience for my students, Dr. Kelly and me. At the end of the year, every single one of my students participated in the school science fair, an indication of how science had really made an impact on my students. Based on the success of this year, I plan to continue inquiry-based teaching in science next year and may try to use this method in other areas. 
Through my teaching methods, I saw that my students extended their ability to formulate both factual and evidential questions, communicated more with their parents about their learning, and were able to succeed with the science curriculum no matter what their specific learning needs were at the start of the school year. There were extraordinary implications for learning not only science but for students achieving in school by being more involved in inquiry-based, hands-on learning. I assert that the academic achievement of my students is only one indication of what we can achieve across America throughout our curriculum if we involve students in more hands-on, inquiry-based learning, give teachers a voice in the curriculum, use funds to promote and build these programs, and establish partnerships to enhance education. 

1. National Research Council, National Science Education Standards (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press 1996).

2. National Research Council, National Science Education Standards (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press 1996).

3. Van Zee, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 38, no.2 (2001).

4. Van Zee, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 38, no.2 (2001).

5. Van Zee, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 38, no.2 (2001), 3.

6. National Research Council, National Science Education Standards (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press 1996), 31.

7. National Research Council, National Science Education Standards (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press 1996).

8. Van Zee, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 38, no.2 (2001), 177.

9. National Research Council, National Science Education Standards (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press 1996).

10. J. Wright and C. Wright, Teachers College Record, vol. 100 Fall (1998), 122. Commentary on the profound changes envisioned by the national science standards.

11. J. Wright and C. Wright, Teachers College Record, vol. 100, Fall (1998), 129. Commentary on the profound changes envisioned by the national science standards. 

12. National Research Council, National Science Education Standards (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press 1996), 28.


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