Science Inquiry-Separate unit or incorporate?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by crunchytxmama, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. crunchytxmama

    crunchytxmama Companion

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    Aug 21, 2011

    This is my first year teaching any kind of science or social studies. Last year's teacher did a year long topic planner, but never made actual units for Science. She has "Scientific Inquiry" listed as a separate unit. I'm struggling with coming up with subtopics when trying to do a concept map for this unit. What would be appropriate at this age for this topic? Our textbook is no help and I looked at our state's public school standards and didn't get any help either. I'm at a private school and our standards are pretty loose, though they do list that the student will understand scientific inquiry.

    So....should I nix the scientific inquiry unit and incorporate it into the other units? Or if I didn't nix the unit, what would be my subtopics?
     
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  3. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Aug 21, 2011

    Scientific inquiry isn't something that you can incorporate into other units. You can incorporate the writing and graphing parts into your English and math units, but the actual inquiry process is something separate.

    I just looked at the TEKS for 3rd grade, and boy are they written differently than our standards here in California! Some of the topics would not be suitable for inquiry, such as building a model of the sun, moon, and Earth. You could definitely do an inquiry unit on states of matter, though.

    Here is a pdf with a whole series of lessons on states of matter for K-3 students: http://www.sciencenter.org/programs/d/oobleck background info and classroom activities.pdf

    Those lessons are hands-on, but they aren't inquiry. You could do an inquiry about melting ice cubes. Have the students predict which surfaces the ice will melt more quickly on - glass, wood, metal, concrete, tile, etc. Then get ice cubes that are the same size, give the students stopwatches, and have them find out. They can graph their results, and then try the experiment on other surfaces to see if they can notice a pattern. (Ice will melt more quickly on surfaces that conduct heat energy, such as a metal ruler, and more slowly on insulators.) I also saw a cute lesson once on designing nests for ice cube penguins to see who can come up with the best insulators.

    I hope this helps! We need more science in elementary schools!
     
  4. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Aug 21, 2011

    We have an introduction unit that covers the scientific process. It teaches how to ask good questions, observations, hypotheses, collecting data, etc. We also introduce some of the tools and materials. We do several small activities and experiments to practice these. It helps the kids know the language that we will be using as we do science experiments later on in the year.
     
  5. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Aug 21, 2011

    I was going to basically say the same thing as amakaye.
    Science as Inquiry is our first unit so that they can apply those learned skills throughout the rest of the year (and their lives!).
     
  6. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Aug 21, 2011

  7. crunchytxmama

    crunchytxmama Companion

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    Aug 21, 2011

    Thanks for the replies! Okay, so we usually write our units using a concept map. What would subtopics be for this unit?
    Obviously scientific process....what else?
     
  8. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Aug 21, 2011

    Ours actually breaks the scientific process down as the subtopics:
    Investigating Questions (Observations/Inferences, Exploring/Predicting, Planning an Investigation)
    Tools Scientists Use (with a little measuring--we'll briefly intro, but cover more in math later in the year)
    Using Models
    How Scientists Use Data (review basic graphs, charts, etc.)
    Comparing Results
     
  9. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Aug 21, 2011

    All science should taught as inquiry, to the greatest extent possible. I don't have any elementary specific resources to recommend since I am high school, but google some things like: STEM, hands-on science, Steve Spangler.

    Teaching science as inquiry has huge benefits across the curriculum.
     

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