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National Standards

Science as Inquiry

As a result of activities in grades K-12, all students should develop

1. Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry

Grades K-4
* Ask a question about objects, organisms, and events in the environment.
* Plan and conduct a simple investigation.
* Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses.
* Use data to construct a reasonable explanation.
* Communicate investigations and explanations.

Grades 5-8

* Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations.
* Design and conduct a scientific investigation.
* Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
* Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models.
* Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.
* Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions.
* Communicate scientific procedures and explanations.
* Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.

Grades 9-12

* Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations.
* Design and conduct scientific investigations.
* Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications.
* Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence.
* Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models.
* Communicate and defend a scientific argument.

2. Understanding about scientific inquiry

Capture the gas. Build a roller coaster. Experiment with gooey recipes. Inquiring minds can learn about science through a variety of hands-on and minds-on techniques. Structured inquiry relies on an outline of procedures with activities designed for discovering relationships and making generalizations about the data. Guided inquiry allows students to develop procedures and methods for examining concepts about a specific problem. Open inquiry challenges students to create and solve science principles, interpret data, and draw conclusions. Resources on the Web can supplement the inquiry lessons in your classroom. Explore these sites for ideas and activities.

Amusement Park Physics

Go to Amusement Park Physics and design a roller coaster while simultaneously learning about science principles involved in creating a thrilling yet safe ride. Select the height of the first hill, the shape of the hill, the exit path, the height of the second hill, and if you should include a loop. After making your selections, test your coaster for safety and fun.

Memory at Exploratorium

Test your memory by trying to remember the droodles named with made up words. On a virtual white board, draw what your remember. Then compare your drawings with the originals. This activity is only one segment of a larger exhibit on memory. How does a sheep's brain compare to a human brain? What is your earliest memory? Listen to recordings of those who tell stories about their earliest memories. Look at paintings an artist has drawn from memory and compare them to the photograph of the scene. Have your students ponder the secrets of memory at this engaging site.


Move your mouse over the pictures to walk through the base of Mars. See how technology can create a base station that allows us to explore this neighboring planet. Take a tour of the base, including the bunks, galley, and wardroom, to see how scientists and astronauts would live on Mars. Visit the greenhouse and ride the robot rover. Review the mission overview and learn facts about Mars. Would you like to become part of the mission?

Funderstanding Roller Coaster

Design a roller coaster using the simulator. Decide on the size for the two hills and determine the speed, mass, gravity, and friction required to construct a roller coaster that is safe. The simulator shows the results and allows for immediate revisions. Pop-up windows describe science concepts such as acceleration, centripetal force, energy, g-force, inertia, momentum, velocity, weight, work, and weightlessness, as well as information about Sir Isaac Newton. Students can see how these concepts apply to roller coaster construction. This is an award-winning science site..

PBS Kids

Movis, games, and activities populate this site..

Science Vocabulary Hangman

Select a letter and name the word before Atom Man decays. Although there is a wealth of science terms included on this site, teachers can add their own vocabulary words. The clues are scientific in nature and help to reinforce knowledge. This site is for all ages.

Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Students learn about the electromagnetic spectrum and remote sensing. The site uses photos, sketches and imagery to illustrate echolocation and electromagnetic waves.

Web Weather for Kids

Want to become a weather forecaster? Enter the contest and predict the weather for a day. Among the activities at this site are making fog in a jar, creating a portable cloud, observing conduction, producing convection currents, and simulating a tornado. Learn the ingredients for weather. Play storm safety, cloud concentration, and cloud matching. Finally, read severe storm stories from around the world.


Science Processes of Inquiry

Once you have introduced your students to inquiry-based learning, you will want them to understand the processes of science inquiry. Create a packet of cards with the process on the front and the description or definition on the back. As students work through the various inquiry activities, they will be able to identify what science processes they used.

Science Process Skills

An Inquiry Primer

Inquiry Introduction Activity: Cat's Meow

In this experiment, students will hypothesize about the behavior of milk that has household detergent and food coloring added to it.

Cat's Meow Procedure Student Handout

Cat's Meow Results Student Handout

Capture the Gas

In this experiment, students learn that when combining two substances a reaction can ocurr that forms a new chemical or substance.

Capture the Gas Lesson

Professional Development Movie

Originally Published Sep/Oct 2003

Updated January 5, 2019