Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning. We know it’s important. We know it helps students master concepts. But finding the right activities can be tough. Are they vetted by experts? Are they going to work? Are they a waste of time?

The Science and Technology Concepts Program provides inquiry-based curriculum that was developed by the National Science Resources Center based on research into how students learn best. The NSRC was established by the National Academies and the Smithsonian Institution.

In short, you can trust this is not a waste of time.

We picked a lesson about the solar system in honor of World Space Week. This lesson is the first in a series on the solar system and serves as an assessment of students’ current knowledge of the relationships among the planets, moons and asteroids.

In this lesson, students will begin to investigate the solar system and its planets and asteroids. What do they already know about the solar system? How far apart are the planets? How do the sizes of other planets compare with Earth? They will examine these and other questions as they begin their journey through the solar system.

By making both qualitative and quantitative comparison of the planets during this lesson, students prepare for later lessons in which they study other planetary characteristics, including geological process, orbital motion and tidal effects.

The objective of the lesson is to:

  • Brainstorm what students know.
  • What they want to learn about the order and sizes of the planets and their distances from each other.
  • Also to use scale models to explore the relative diameters of and distances between the nine planes and the Sun.
  • Finally summarize and organize information about Mercury.

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