Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!


Science as Interactive, Interdisciplinary Inquiry:
(July 21-August 1, 2008)




It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of enquiry.
- Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions


Participant Expectations/Assignments

What you get out of this institute is, as with any educational activity, to a large extent a function of what you put into it. And what you put into it will strongly influence what others get out of it as well, both other institute participants and others interested in education world wide. For these reasons, you should during the summer

  • participate actively in each day's morning discussions and afternoon development sessions
  • make regular postings in the institute on-line forum areas, and respond each day to at least one other posting
  • develop and present to other institute participants open-ended transactional educational experiences that you have developed (see schedule on homepage)
  • use afternoon development sessions to explore resources and create materials for open-ended transactional educational experiences you can use next year in your own classrooms

Following the Institute

  1. Please continue thinking about our conversations during the ten days of the Institute, and what we might continue to do together to bring about desireable changes in pre-college (and college) education. Insitute materials will remain available to you (and others) at /exchange/suminst/iii2008 This includes all notes and resource lists, your web pages, and the institute forum areas.
  2. By September 1, please prepare a curriculum development proposal. This should describe some aspect of your experiences with the Institute which suggests a way to improve pre-college education, and the particular changes which you want to try out in your own classroom. It should include as well a budget indicating how you will spend $200 to bring about those changes. The proposal should be made available as part of your blog. Checks will be mailed for receipt by October 1.
  3. Keep us all posted during the year by recording your thoughts/experiences at least monthly in your blog. Keep in mind Serendip, the kinds of resources and conversations it would be helpful to you and others to have there, and contributions that you (and your students) might be able to make to that.
  4. By June 1, please prepare a report on the outcome of your curriculum development activities. This report should also be posted in your blog and be thoughtful (including both successes and failures), no more than three or four pages long, and provide a synopsis of what you actually did and how that in turn suggests additional things for yourself and other teachers.
  5. By June 1, complete an on-line questionairre about the ways the Institute has influenced your teaching during the year at a URL that will be emailed to you.

Your attention to this set of responsibilities/assignments is important not only to your own education and that of others but also to external assessments of the summer institute progrm on which its continued funding depends. Participants who fail to satisfy expectations will not be eligible for admission to future institutes in the program.





cynthia's picture


Students will be able to scaffold and experience scientific phenomena using plant fibers DNA experiments,photosynthesis,physiololgy,and reflexes.A flip video camera would be useful in this instance to proceed with the educational process.Also the $400.00 stipend would enable me to purchase the needed large tubs and other materials for the paper making project.Please send all proceeds from each institute to Shawmont School.

Cynthia Henderson's picture

Inquiry-based education

I would like to experience some techniques to encourage even more the discovery process for young students.Students need to be able to question and create as it relates to brain functioning and content material.
Cynthia Henderson's picture

Inquiry-based education

I would like to experience some techniques to encourage even more the discovery process for young students.Students need to be able to question and create as it relates to brain functioning and content material.
Susan Dorfman's picture

Pre-Institute Thoughts about Inquiry

The day before the start of the 2008 Science as Interactive, Interdisciplinary Inquiry

I think of inquiry as a thoughtful question based on an observation of interest, possibly the result of a discrepant event, followed by an attempt to answer the question either by researching similar events in printed materials or by setting up a controlled experiment. Either of these methods assumes a point of view that may change according to the results.

In my experience as a teacher, I assume a pivotal role in the inquiry for my students, perhaps involving myself too much. Often, I pose the question and provide the background information. Then, I ask the students to help design the approach to an answer. This short cut permits more me to include more content in the course.

I guess we are all capable of posing questions, but it seems to be the great intellects who are able to pose the important questions. As with most endeavors, practice helps to elevate the level of questioning.

I hope this Institute of Science as Interactive, Interdisciplinary Inquiry will help me to provide more practice time in the classes I teach.

Susan Dorfman

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
12 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.