Science and POI

Inquiry Based Science

What does it look like?

One of the most common question I get from teachers and parents new to the PYP is :

What does learning look like in the PYP?

To answer that I remind that it depends on the unit of inquiry, ongoing investigations etc. but usually  one should find:

  • Students engaged in learning-focused discussion
  • Students working on tasks and activities that are designed in collaboration with them and that engage their interests
  • Lots of different combinations of groupings from individual to groups to whole class, from pods to common areas
  • Collaboration among all learners in the grade level learning commons
  • Students engaged in their learning in different areas of the commons and pods
  • Students involved in different activities within the same session as they inquire
  • Students extending their learning independently
  • Opportunities for students to try out their ideas and abandon or modify their misconceptions (learning by experience)
  • Walls and displays serving as a canvas for documenting collective knowledge and learning processes
  • Hands-on resources used to enhance and improve authentic learning experiences

After my latest parent workshop however I was faced with a new question: “But what does all that have to do with science?”

To help in answering this question, I woild like to present the findings and suggestions from Vermont Elementary Science Project: “On the Run Reference Guide to the Nature of Elementary Science for the student ” (1991, with revisions 1992)

“The intent is not to use this guide as a checklist, but as a statement of what we value in the areas of science processes, science dispositions, and science concept development We urge you to capture evidence of your own students engaging in these indicators “

When students are doing inquiry based science, an observer will see that:

Children View Themselves as Scientists in the Process of Learning.
1. They look forward to doing science.
2. They demonstrate a desire to 1earn more.
3. They seek to collaborate and work cooperatively with their peers.
4. They are confident in doing science; they demonstrate a willingness to modify ideas, take risks, and display healthy skepticism.

Children Accept an “Invitation to Learn” and
Readily Engage in The Exploration Process.

1. Children exhibit curiosity and ponder observations.
2. They move around selecting and using the materials they need.
3. They take the opportunity and the time to “try out” their own ideas.

Children Plan and Carry Out Investigations.
1. Children design a way to try out their ideas, not expecting to be told what to do.
2. They plan ways to verify, extend or discard ideas.
3. They carry out investigations by: handling materials, observing, measuring, and recording data.

Children Communicate Using a Variety of Methods.
1. Children express ideas in a variety of ways: journals, reporting out, drawing, graphing,charting, etc.
2. They listen, speak and write about science with parents, teachers and peers.
3. They use the language of the processes of sci-ence.
4. They communicate their level of understand-ing of concepts that they have developed to date.

Children Propose Explanations and Solutions and Build a Store of Concepts.
1. Children offer explanations from a “store” of previous knowledge. (Alternative Frameworks, Gut Dynamics).
2. They use investigations to satisfy their own questions.
3. They sort out information and decide what is important.
4. They are willing to revise explanations as they gain new knowledge.

Children Raise Questions
1. Children ask questions (verbally or through actions).
2. They use questions to lead them to investigations that generate further questions or ideas.
3. Children value and enjoy asking questions as an important part of science.

Children Use Observation.
1. Children observe, as opposed to just looking.
2. They see details, they detect sequences and events; they notice change, similarities and differences, etc.
3. They make connections to previously held ideas.

Children Critique Their Science Practices.
1. They use indicators to assess their own work
2. They report their strengths and weaknesses.
3. They reflect with their peers.

“Inquiry Based Science: What Does It Look Like?” Connect Magazine (published by Synergy Learning), March-April 1995, p. 13.

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