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More Inquiry - A few difinitions

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Operational Definitions of Inquiry-Related Terms

This project will focus on several aspects of inquiry that are operationally defined as follows:

Processes of Science - when scientists analyze what they do when they do science, discrete skills are identified, e.g. observation, measurement, prediction, classification, inferring, designing investigations, analyzing data, and so on. A child observing, classifying, and measuring rocks would be engaged in science processes. And while scientists like to claim processes as their own, students in reading classes observe, predict, and infer. Students in math classes observe, measure, and classify. Process skills are valuable across the curriculum and as life skills.
Process Skills Competency Continuum and Chart

Inquiry - is a multifaceted activity that involves making observations; posing questions, examining books, the Internet, and other sources of information to see what is already known; planning investigations; reviewing what is already known in the light of experimental evidence; using tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data; proposing answers, explanations, and predictions; and communicating the results. Inquiry requires critical and logical thinking. As one scientist put it, “it is doing one’s damnedest with one’s mind, no holds barred.” A fifth grader desiring to make a burglar alarm using flashlight cells, wire, and a buzzer would work with simple electrical circuits, read about alarms, and try out his/her ideas, and share them with classmates. Inquiry-based science is based on research and experience, both of which confirm that children learn science best when they engage in hands-on activities.

Investigation - is a more formal way to investigate natural phenomena through observational investigations to find out what is and experimental investigations in which participants use scientific methods such as stating a problem; formulating hypotheses; designing investigations; gathering, displaying, and analyzing data; and making, communicating, and defending conclusions based upon evidence. Sixth grade students might design and do an experiment to determine the effects of hand dominance on reaction time. Not only would they learn scientific thinking but they would also learn about the human brain and human nervous system.

Design Technology - while technology to most people means computers, in this project technology shall have a broader meaning…the means of changing the world to satisfy our needs. Design technology is a creative process for solving problems (Standards for Technological Literacy, International Technology Education Association, March 2002). The NSES defines the process as identifying appropriate problems, designing a solution or a product, implementing a proposed design, evaluating the design or product, and communicating the process (NSES, 1996, pp. 165-166). Design technology is used by engineers and scientists. It is often called the design-redesign process. In school, design technology translates into having first graders making paper cup wheels and releasing them on a ramp to see how far they can get them to roll, or third graders designing ways to test the strength of a variety of brands of wet paper towels, or fifth graders designing and testing a container that can prevent an egg from breaking when dropped from increasing heights. Design technology in is a first cousin to scientific experimentation and an excellent way to help children develop creative problem-solving skills.