Science Teaching and Learning through Inquiry and Context
Sponsored by Crown Region Higher Consortium for Mathematics and Science
What is Inquiry?
According to the National Science Foundation's Overview of the Standards,
"Learning science is something that students do, not something that is done to them. Hands-on activities, while essential, are not enough. Students must have minds-on experiences as well. Inquiry is central to science learning. When engaging in inquiry, students describe objects and events, ask questions, construct explanations, test those explanations against current scientific knowledge, and communicate their ideas to others. They identify their assumptions, use critical and logical thinking, and consider alternative explanations. In this way, students actively develop their understanding of science by combining scientific knowledge with reasoning and thinking skills."
To learn more about what inquiry is, visit The Exploratorium Institute of Inquiry.
Inquiry Lesson Plans and Activities
- Bats is a science inquiry lesson for Kindergarten and 1st grade students.
- Exhaust, Gas, and Pollution
is an inquiry lesson provided by the Utah 9th Grade Science Core. It
leads students through the steps involved in testing various gases.
- Foam Activity is a three-part activity which uses foam to distinguish between inquiry-based instruction and other hands-on approaches.
- Investigating Wind Energy provides four activities designed to improve critical thinking through the inquiry approach to instruction.
- Ice Balloons: Exploring the Role of Questioning in Inquiry is an activity designed to develop critical thinking skills.
is an Exploratorium inquiry activity which utilizes structured
curriculum materials like kits. It is designed to assist teachers with
adapting existing materials toward a more inquiry-based method of
- Process Circus
is an inquiry lesson plan provided by the Exploratorium which provides
twelve activities designed to support an understanding of the process
skills essential to inquiry.
- Temperature Changes in the Atmosphere
is another inquiry lesson provided by the Utah 9th Grade Science Core.
It provides opportunities for students to test different variables that
- Selenium: A Window on Wetlands provides a lesson to determine how contaminants move and change in an ecosystem.
- Exploring the Environment
provides earth science modules designed to engage high school students
in the practice of scientific inquiry and analysis. This site is
sponsored by NASA Classroom of the Future.
Florida Business and Industry
Florida Science Museums
- Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales is located at one of the highest points in Florida. The gardens include plants and wildlife, as well as exhibits.
- Children's Science Center in Cape Coral desires to share the love for mathematics, science, and technology to both children and adults.
- Florida Aquarium
in Tampa is an exhibit that is as much like the natural environments of
Florida's fish, plants, and other creatures as possible. The aquarium
includes habitats such as mangrove forest, bays and beaches, and
- Harbor Branch Oceanographic Museum
in Fort Pierce features a bus or boat tour which shows submarines,
ships, and leading-edge science facilities. Dolphins, manatees, sharks,
and bald eagles could also be found at the museum.
- Miami Museum of Science
in Miami provides the Planetarium, Wildlife Center, and more than 100
hands-on exhibits, including Smithsonian Expeditions, Busy Town, and
Sports Challenge. The museum plans to create an international science
center in association with the Smithsonian Institution.
- Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach
- Museum of Discovery and Science
in Fort Lauderdale feels it is important to grant exhibits and programs
which instill the understanding and appreciation of science to
- Museum of Science and History
in Jacksonville furnishes numerous exhibits, such as Atlantic Tails,
Bats, Current of Time, The Living Room, and The Maple Leaf. The museum
also has a planetarium and provides both science and history programs
- Museum of Science and Industry
in Tampa renders hands-on exhibits, Imax dome theater, and Saunders
Planetarium. The museum offers more than 450 "minds-on" interactive
activities for all ages.
- Odyssey Science Center
in Tallahassee gives children and adults an understanding of science
and technology through permanent and interactive exhibits, such as
Weather Station, Hydrogeology, Star Lab, and Early Voyages.
- Orlando Science Center
in Orlando has ten exhibition halls with hands-on interactive exhibits.
The CineDome presents films and planetarium shows on an eight-story
- Robert Krampf's Science Education Company
in St. Augustine presents shows about electricity, lightning, fire,
dinosaurs, and energy. Mr. Krampf will help schools start a science
museum and will train and consult with teachers.
- South Florida Science Museum and Aldrin Planetarium
in West Palm Beach provides the McGinty Saltwater Aquarium, the Buzz
Aldrin Planetarium, and hands-on interactive exhibits. The Aquarium
includes eight salt water aquariums. The Planetarium presents star shows
and laser concerts. Exhibits include Weather, Light and Color, Sound
and Resonance, Energy and Electricity, and Brain Teasers.
- South Florida Museum, Bishop Planetarium & Parker Manatee Aquarium
in Bradenton includes a planetarium which provides simulation of past,
present, and future skies. Laser shows and special effects are seen on a
regular basis. The Aquarium is home to "Baby Snoots," the first
recorded manatee born in captivity. It is also home to other manatees
and endangered species.
- Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science
in Tallahassee has a natural habitat zoo of indigenous wildlife,
historical buildings and artifacts, and an environmental science center
on a fifty-two acre lake side setting.
- The California Academy of Sciences
features three museums in one: the Natural History Museum, The
Steinhart Aquarium, and the Morrison Planetarium. Its web server
provides a wealth of information on various topics.
- Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education Programs and Initiatives provides a comprehensive listing of federal, university, and private on-line science museum sites.
- The Exploratorium
is a museum with over 500 interactive "hands-on" exhibits focusing on
science, art, and human perception. Its Institute for Inquiry provides a
collection of inquiry resources, graduate resources, and inquiry
- The Field Museum in Chicago, IL features various exhibits, student/teacher programs, research information and more.
- The Franklin Institute Science Museum
provides a wealth of resources for "inquiring minds." Visit here to
learn about the ocean,
volcanoes, earthquakes, El Nino,
and more. An online magazine is also available entitled the inquiry Almanac.
- The Hands On Children's Museum in Olympia, Washington provides online information about various exhibits focusing on body basics, Ms. Frizzle and the Magic Schoolbus Inside the Body, opportunities to explore wildlife in your own
- The Imagination Station
in Wilson, North Carolina is a facility dedicated to the advancement of
inquiry based education. Visit this site to learn about its ongoing
programs and projects.
- The Miami Museum of Science
features a special exhibit on wildlife, along with other exhibits which
focus on the youth, ecology, the American Indians, sports, and more.
Educational resources are also available.
- The Museum Institute for Teaching Science
in Boston, Massachusetts is a nonprofit institute that promotes
science, math, and technology through hands-on inquiry based
- The Museum of Science in Boston welcomes its visitors with online exhibits, programs, resources for teachers, and related links.
- The Natural History Museum
in London, England provides visitors with online databases on dinosaurs
and plants, an interactive investigation called "Quest," a feature on
myths and monsters, and more.
- The New England Science Center
is a regional environmental museum which provides programs on
astronomy, wildlife, and online projects. Visitors can obtain current
New England weather reports taken from the roof of their building.
- The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
features a virtual exhibit on the forest's cycles and management, along
with various online projects and resources for educators. At the
- Science Museum
in London, England, visitors can discover interesting facts about
vision through online experiments, learn about different types of
materials in our world, journey through the history of flight, learn
about online educational projects, and more.
- The Science Museum of Minnesota
describes itself as the "Upper Midwest's place for discovery since
1907." It features online exhibits and projects and various educational
- Smithsonian Museums and Research Centers offers a wide range of educational resources including links to seventeen museums and nine research centers.
- Environment 97
provides information from a major environmental on-line conference and
exhibition organized by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).
This site includes hundreds of listings for environmental case studies.
- Technology Association of America,
an organization sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, strives to increase
technology literacy of all Americans. To support this effort, it has
provided this site which includes information on technology standards,
field testing, and public relations materials.
describes itself as an interactive look at current research in the
materials sciences at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source. Visitors
learn what the Advanced Light Source is, what it looks like, how it
works, how materials science relates to environmental problems, and
- Robert Krampf: Science Education Company
provides programs on electricity, lightning, fire safety, dinosaurs,
energy, and more. The Science Education Company is located in St.
Augustine, FL and works with museums, universities, schools, and others
across the United States in an effort to make science
fun and understandable.
is a worldwide network of students, teachers, and scientists working
together to conduct research and develop an understanding of our global
environment via the Internet. This site provides activities which
assists students to improve achievement in science and math.
- Eisenhower Consortium for Mathematics and Science Education at SERVE
provides networking and professional development opportunities,
resources, publications, and contact information as they strive to
promote systemic reform in mathematics and science education in the
- ENC Online provides a comprehensive selection of K-12 math and science resources.
- Access Excellence
is a site for high school biology teachers which makes scientific
information from fellow educators and scientists available via the World
Wide Web. This site includes activities, forum opportunities, on-line
projects, science seminars, and more.
- NASA Classroom of the Futures World Wide Web Site
extends an invitation for teachers to participate in a five day
Integrated, Math, Science, and Technology Teacher-Leader Institute
providing opportunities to explore relationships between math, science,
and technology with real-world, problem-solving projects.
- NASA Spacelink
provides educational services, instructional materials, and NASA news,
projects, and overviews. Search capabilities within the NASA site are
- Science Friday Kids Connection
is a site based on a weekly science talk show which focuses on science
topics currently in the news. Ira Flatow, a science journalist,
discusses science issues.
- Challenger Learning Center
provides educational resources and programs, information on current
events, teacher training opportunities, along with a mailbox. This site
keeps visitors informed on current events in the space community while
providing numerous space related educational activities.
- HILITES Global Schoolhouse
allows teachers to communicate with other teachers around the world. It
is a site which includes information about exciting global
collaborative classroom learning projects, along with the ability to
create, promote, and conduct collaborative projects of your own.
- Rotten Truth
is a site which reveals the true story about garbage. Learn what we
consider to be garbage, where garbage comes from, where it goes, and how
it affects the environment. This on-line exhibition is divided into
four main areas: What is Garbage?, There's No "Away", Nature Recycles,
and Making Choices.
- Explore Our Resources
provides a wealth of inquiry instructional resources from the Science
Inquiry Network. Topics include earth forces, El Nino, atoms, water in
the city, weather, cycling, hockey, auroras, windmills to whirligigs,
air travelers, water works, hurricanes, wind, and more.
- The Heart Preview Gallery provides an online tour of the heart.
- Visit the Hurricane Storm Science
site to learn about the inside a hurricane, weather instruments, killer
storms. In addition, students can meet survivors of hurricanes and hear
about their experiences.
- Microscopes, Cells, DNA, and You is an inquiry-based resource for learning about and teaching optics, cells, and DNA.
- Partners For Growing Investigations in Plant Science for Grades 1-4 provides instructional resources for students and teachers.
- The Discovery Channel Online provides features, expeditions, mind games, animal cams, and more.
- The IMSEnet Teachers site offers numerous workshops available to enhance science instruction.
National Science Initiatives
Coordinated by Dr. Marianne Barnes, Professor
University of North Florida
College of Education and Human Services
Department of Foundations and Secondary Education