Check Out What’s New on Science A-Z, April 2017

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We are a Codie  nominated website in the category of Best Science or Health Instructional Solution. Science A-Z places a strong emphasis on blending science with literacy ensuring that you satisfy science content standards as well as common core language arts objectives. Did you know that science A-Z also offers hands-on science activities for students? Our site currently has over 90 different process activities.

These engaging explorations and experiments help students delve into science content and develop key scientific practices such as using mathematics, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. Our process activities foster student inquiry although several other approaches to inquiry are valuable as well.

Some of the science A-Z staff attended the NSTA National Conference in 2012 in Indianapolis this past spring. It was great to meet so many existing and future science A-Z members. In one breakout workshop, we were reminded of how easy it can be to differentiate science inquiry. Professor Douglas Llewellan of Fisher College in Rochester New York mapped out several major approaches to inquiry. The difference among them has to do which roles are held by the teacher and which are given to students.

Check Out What’s New on Science A-Z, April 2017
In classic science demonstrations, the teacher maintains nearly all the control. You set the purpose and variables, conduct the experiment, and lead students to a predetermined outcome. However, demonstrations may inspire deeper inquiry getting students excited and curious about a science subject. In science A-Z unit guide, the spark activity is sometimes a demonstration. In structured inquiry, the teacher sets the purpose for learning. You provide the materials and the procedures for students to follow.

Students then carry out the investigation and are given the latitude to pursue unknown outcomes. Most of Science A-Z process activities are examples of structured inquiry. These valuable experiences reinforce science content and vocabulary. They challenge students to communicate orally and in writing to observe and record data, analyze their data and to draw conclusions.

The second highest level of inquiry is guided inquiry. Here, you as the teacher still pose the research question and provide materials. But the students develop their own procedures to investigate the question. They design their own data sheet to suit that activity and analyze the data in their own way.

To use Science A-Z materials for guided inquiry, present students with the purpose and materials list and then set them in motion to write procedures and carry out an experiment or investigation to help answer their question. The highest level of inquiry is open inquiry. In this model which is most like what real scientists do, the teacher hands most of the control to students. You still do facilitate the activity providing materials, guidance, and assessment. But students pursue questions they are truly curious about. They design experiments and they make original discoveries. To foster open inquiry with Science A-Z materials you might start by reviewing the contents of our non-fiction books. These general topics should open up a world of questions for students as they consider how the concepts apply to everyday life. Use students questions from a graphic organizer such as the KWL chart or the ask and answer questions worksheet. You could have students complete a structured process activity and then let them pursue new related questions as an extension.

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