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Scientific Inquiry

Scientific inquiry and the scientific method are similar concepts – but not the same thing. The National Science Education Standards defines scientific inquiry as “the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Scientific inquiry also refers to the activities through which students develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world.” One way to describe the relationship is that the scientific method is the backbone of all rigorous scientific inquiry. NSTA (National Science Teacher’s Association) advocates use of scientific inquiry as part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NSTA 2016). These ideas include (1) using STEM practices to actively engage students in science learning (2) integrating these practices with core ideas, and (3) motivating students through their intrinsic interests to explain natural phenomena and design solutions to problems.

Lesson 1 (or “Day 1”) Material
Lesson 2 (or “Day 2”) Material
Lesson 3 (or “Day 3”) Material
Lesson 4 (or “Day 4”) Material


Compare Contrast and Debate


Resources Documents and Links




NGSS – The Wonder of Science

A phenomenon is simply an observable event.  In the science classroom a carefully chosen phenomenon can drive student inquiry.  Phenomena add relevance to the science classroom showing students science in their own world.  A good phenomenon is observable, interesting, complex, and aligned to the appropriate standard.

HS-LS1-1: Genes, Proteins, and Tissues
HS-LS1-2: Interacting Body Systems
HS-LS1-3: Feedback Mechanisms and Homeostasis
HS-LS1-4: Cellular Division and Differentiation
HS-LS1-5: Photosynthesis and Energy Transformation
HS-LS1-6: Formation of Carbon-Based Molecules
HS-LS1-7: Cellular Respiration and Energy Transfer
HS-LS2-1: Carrying Capacity of Ecosystems
HS-LS2-2: Biodiversity and Populations in Ecosystems
HS-LS2-3: Aerobic and Anaerobic Cycling of Matter
HS-LS2-4: Biomass and Trophic Levels
HS-LS2-5: Cycling of Carbon in Ecosystems
HS-LS2-6: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
HS-LS2-7: Human Impact Reduction Solution
HS-LS2-8: Social Interactions and Group Behavior
HS-LS3-1: Chromosomal Inheritance
HS-LS3-2: Inheritable Genetic Variation
HS-LS3-3: Variation and Distribution of Traits
HS-LS4-1:Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
HS-LS4-2: Four Factors of Natural Selection
HS-LS4-3: Adaptation of Populations
HS-LS4-4: Natural Selection Leads to Adaptation
HS-LS4-5: Environmental Change – Speciation and Extinction
HS-LS4-6: Human Impact on Biodiversity Solution

Special Notes and Notices

Instructor Emphasis:

  • Science & Engineering Practice: Construct explanations and design solutions.
  • Cross-Cutting Concept: Systems and System Models.

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