May 01, 2016

Inquiry Based Science

let it grow!



I am a big fan of hands-on learning.  The less I can teach, and the more I can let students discover for themselves the better!  When I was in university, I completed my education degree in the inquiry-based cohort, and it has absolutely impacted my teaching style.  There is just so much research suggesting that when students discover things for themselves in a classroom environment, rather than have all of the information ‘deposited’ lecture-style, they make genuine lifelong connections to the learning.

This spring, we are learning about plants through a guided-inquiry unit.  Guided because I came up with the inquiry questions (true inquiry allows students to come up with their own questions). 

We began by learning some vocabulary and key plant terms. 

Then, I posed the question: “How do plants grow and change?”  I put the question on a blank bulletin board, and left room for us to answer as we moved through the unit.

Guided inquiry cards - included in the whole packet. 



Instead of handing them a worksheet with the answers, we began to plant!

We planted beans, lettuce, scallions, marigolds, and pansies.

Each student cared for an individual bean plant, and tracked its growth, changes, and how they cared for it.  In groups, they took turns being ‘gardeners’ for our group outdoor garden. 



There were so many great AH-HA moments as we used our hands-on garden as the focal point for our learning, and I think we learned more from our mistakes than successes!  My students knew the concept of photosynthesis, but only truly understood the importance of green leaves when their plants were munched by local deer!

We finally figured out why plants need sunlight after our blinds were accidentally closed over the weekend and our plants sat in the dark for 72 hours. 

We tracked the changes on our plants, and marveled at how resilient our bean plants were! 

We could not believe at how our teeny-tiny seeds turned into edible pieces of lettuce!

I cannot tell you how many parents have sent me e-mails, or stopped in to let me know that they now have small gardens in their houses/apartments that are being tended to by my third graders.  It makes me smile to think that what we are learning in the classroom is already turning into out-of-school continued education! 

I’ve gathered together my whole unit into a ready-to-go packet that you can pick up on Teachers Pay Teachers.   It has everything you need: vocabulary, life cycle worksheets, inquiry questions, student notebooks, and two experiments. 

Students made scientific observations in their Plant Journals



If you try it out, let me know what you think!  Have your kiddos discovered their “green thumb”? 

- Rachel

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