Inquiry First, Talk Later
The first week of classes are in the bag at my university where I’m currently teaching a class called “Foundations of Science: Physics, Earth Science, and Inquiry based Projects.” I’m teaching K-8 physics and earth science concepts primarily to education majors, but in a way that neither they nor I have learned science before. As countless articles and research papers have suggested over the decades, we’re going to learn first by doing.
The class starts with a group activity exploring some concept in physics or Earth science. The students work through the activity together while I float around the classroom and help where needed and monitor progress. Only once they have completed the assignment and turned in their worksheets do we delve into a lecture and discussion of the topic at hand. By learning, through inquiry first, we hope that students will gain a better understanding of the science at hand.
But this is a meta-class of sorts, as learning the science content isn’t the primary goal for my students. Rather, I’m hoping to show them how to teach science through these hands-on activities, as these will come in handy in the changing education climate that they will be entering. Illinois is a Next Generation Science Standards state, and these new standards are especially focused on science and engineering practices.
So far, this class system is working well, though we’re only two classes in. It helps having access to a resource center full of science demos, labs, and toys. I hope the students are enjoying it as well. At least you can’t fall asleep in an active group of three or four when your class is at 8am! I hope to have more updates on this cool classroom structure as the semester continues.
Featured Image CC Amy on Flickr