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Investigating Inquiry

A presentation for the Virginia Association of Science Teachers

Brooke Whitworth

on 15 November 2013

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Transcript of Investigating Inquiry


Michael Mandzak, Geoff Parks,
Philip Snell & Brooke Whitworth
University of Virginia

Earth Science
Investigating Inquiry
How do the densities of earth materials change as you head toward the center of the Earth?
Next, compare these values for density with the values listed in our reference table, and identify the metals.
Of the metals found inside earth's layers, how do the densities change as we head inside earth?
Case Studies as opportunities for Inquiry:
Improving on Nature?

What factors impact the energy flow in an ecosystem?
How will the introduction of an alien species affect energy flow in the Lake Atitlan ecosystem?
Research Question
Students analyze initial data and use it to support their decision to accept or reject the proposal at a village meeting. Students then form jigsaw groups to analyze subsequent historical data.
Separate into groups of 3-4 people.
With your group, read, analyze, and discuss the “Historical Updates” provided to you. Be prepared to make conclusions about how the introduction of the black bass impacted energy flow in the Lake Atitlan ecosystem.
Scientific knowledge is tentative: How can new evidence upturn a previously held belief?
Subjectivity plays a role in science: Would you feel the same or different if you were taking another interest group’s perspective?
Science is collaborative and social: How did your peers help shape your thoughts?
Science is affected by society and culture: How can political, religious, economical, & philosophical beliefs impact interpretation of data?
Incorporating Explicit NOS Tenets
Bioethics: Big business vs. tribal village, environmental considerations, politics, etc.
Historical Perspective: How were people shaped by the views of their time? How/why would this differ from today?
Artificial selection: How did the introduction of the black bass influence the natural factors at work in the Lake Atitlan ecosystem?
Alternative Slants
Levels of Inquiry
Your goal is to identify an unknown ionic solid
You will be designing a procedure to determine unknown
Identifying an Unknown Solid
Students would also :
Perform the tests
Determine the identity of their unknown
Write an explanation for their identity based on the collected data
In the Classroom
Research Question
1. Find the mass of each object
2. Find the volume of each object
3. Using these values, calculate the density of each object
Students answering a research question through data analysis.
What is Inquiry?
“Investigate” refers to scientific methodology and
implies systematic use of the following inquiry
•classifying and sequencing;
•defining, controlling, and manipulating variables in experimentation;
•designing, constructing, and interpreting models; and
•interpreting, analyzing, and evaluating data.
According to
Virginia SOLs:
1. Asking questions
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
According to NGSS (NRC, 2013):
Students review the structures and functions of cell organelles .
Use this information to build models of plant and animal cells.
Leaf collection:
Collect and press 30 different leaves
Mount each leaf on a piece of paper
Complete an identification label for each leaf
Combine the pages into a notebook
Students determine the sequence of phases by observing the moon and recording observations for a month.
“Does the moon rise and set at the same times every night?” Following a brief discussion, the teacher demonstrates the rising and setting of the moon for several sequential evenings using Starry Night. She then facilitates a class discussion about the moon’s apparent motion in the sky, based on their simulated observations.
Students investigate the factors that may influence the reaction rate of the iodine clock.
The goal should be for students to do something that supports the scientific practices in every class.
How do we do that?
Levels of Inquiry
Level 1: Confirmatory
Question, procedure & answer provided
Level 2: Structured
Question and procedure provided
Level 3: Guided
Question provided
Level 4: Open
Nothing provided (e.g., science fair)
How often should students be engaged with scientific practices?

To access this presentation and the resources, please make sure to take a card on your way out!
(Bell, Smetana, & Binns, 2005)
What did your group conclude?
How do you find density?
What level of inquiry was this?
Was this inquiry?
Talk with your group and develop a procedure to identify your unknown.
Be prepared to justify the procedure that you choose.
Your Task
What procedure did you develop?
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