THE GLACIAL INQUIRY: INVESTIGATING EARTH SCIENCE INQUIRY LESSONS IN A FIFTH-GRADE CLASSROOM

Open Access
Author:
Alley, Janet Christine
Area of Honors:
Elementary and Kindergarten Education
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Carla Zembal Saul, Thesis Supervisor
  • Bernard Joel Badiali, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • inquiry
  • elmentary classroom
  • science
  • glacier
  • question
Abstract:
Elementary school is a time for children to find their identity as students, to help them prepare for their future as citizens. Helping students to read and write and develop early number sense is essential. Equally as important is capitalizing on students’ natural curiosity about the way the world works by helping them to think more scientifically. The use of inquiry science lessons in elementary schools is one of the best ways to accomplish this. It immerses students in the ways that scientists think as they explore materials and phenomena, develop wonderings, experiment, and make claims about the things that they observe based on their evidence. As I researched what inquiry science was, I developed a series of inquiry lessons about glaciers for the fifth-grade class I am student teaching in. Through discussion with the students and my own observations, I saw the power of inquiry science for students. Compared to lecture-based, note-taking science lessons, inquiry science helps students to develop long-term understanding, and increases their engagement with science overall. Through consistent use of inquiry, students may begin to overcome negative stereotypes of science as boring, and those interested in it as geeks or nerds. Most importantly, inquiry science can nurture student curiosity instead of eliminating it. Inquiry science is the most effective way to help future generations learn to appreciate science and understand how scientific claims are generated, which allows them to make informed decisions regarding what they believe. This is an essential aspect in a world faced by challenges that only science can solve.