Promoting Inquiry Based Learning In Your Science Classroom

3 Ways to Inspire Queries and Speculations Among the Bright Minds in Your Classroom

McGraw-Hill
Jan 20, 2017 · 4 min read

Earlier this week, we released our first “New Year’s Resolution” science blog with tips for incorporating EdTech into your science classroom. Now, we thought we would continue the conversation by thinking about promoting inquiry based learning in the science classroom. With the recent announcement that four new elements were officially added to the periodic table, it’s looking like the start of 2017 will be the perfect time to focus on science in education, and brainstorm new ways to get young learners excited about their time in the science classroom. To get started on fostering that excitement, check out our fun animation detailing one of those newly added elements, Moscovium, below. Then read on to find more inspiration and resources for promoting inquiry based learning in your science classroom →


At its core, science IS inquiry-based learning. Without curious minds asking questions and pursuing answers, there would be no science. But when you have a classroom full of students and standards to reach, it is all too easy to fall out of the habit of asking questions, and into the habit of cyclically and passively passing on and absorbing information. This year, make it a goal to push yourself, and your students, out of the usual comfort zone. Utilize new tools, encourage your students to ask new questions, and always strive for the answers. Enter the year with a new mindset: not that only you will inform your students, but that you will be a facilitator of discovery and insights.

First, provide fundamental background information that will spark questions among your students, but vary the way you present that information. Although lectures can be highly effective, they can also be monotonous. Use videos, live demos (kids are particularly fond of those!) and simulations. [In my high school Physics and Astronomy class, our teacher used liquid nitrogen to freeze his “thumb” — it was really just a hotdog — and then shattered it with a hammer. That certainly got the attention of a class full of sixteen-year-olds!] Videos are great, too. This fun, informative demo about chemistry and water is also a perfect way to vary instruction:

You can also take the dive into project and problem based learning. Put your students in a situation where they have to apply the fundamental knowledge from videos and lectures to an interactive problem/solution scenario. Challenge them to ask questions, formulate methods for answering those questions, and use critical thinking skills along the way. Hear from educational expert Ernest Morrell about the importance of project-based learning in all subjects.

Finally, don’t just teach your kids to memorize the scientific method, teach them to live and breath the scientific method every time they set out to learn. Engaging in inquiry based learning is so similar to using the scientific method (in any subject). We teach kids what the scientific method is — and make them memorize it for the first unit of class — but this year, go a step further. Let the method be your mantra, and encourage kids to go through that process every time they do a science experiment or set out to solve a problem. Eventually, it will become second nature to them, and they might use it in another class, or maybe even the “real world”.


For more ways to promote inquiry-based learning in your science classroom, check out our K-5 science program, Inspire Science, an educational experience that focuses on problem-based learning, hands-on activities, and group collaboration: all through the guidance of our STEM Career Kids characters.

You can also take a look at our adaptive learning program, LearnSmart + SmartBook, an intuitive learning system that determines precisely which learning objectives a student has grasped and those with which he/she struggles. It allows students to build upon fundamental curriculum knowledge and encourages self-guided learning. You can learn more about LearnSmart+SmartBook here.

To discover how the science of learning (when combined with the art of teaching and interwoven with purposeful technology) can transform your science classroom, check out more science curriculum options at McGraw-Hill Education:

Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.

McGraw-Hill

Written by

We apply the science of learning to create innovative educational solutions and content to improve outcomes from K-20 and beyond.

Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade