Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Newton's First Law: Inertia Kills Investigation - Section 2: Explore


Inquiry is a central core idea within the portfolio of best practices for science teaching. I remember feeling overwhelmed with the idea of planning instruction and managing the classroom in a truly open inquiry-based model. These are the questions I would ask myself:

How will students get anything done?

How will students design good experiments that answer standards-based questions?

How will I scaffold the process for students who are: second-language learners, struggling readers, unmotivated, immature, physically disabled, on IEPs?

Where is the time I need to do all of this?

The answer to these questions is: not all activities necessitate open inquiry approaches. Luckily, the idea of inquiry encompasses many inquiry-based approaches ranging from open inquiry to structured inquiry. This particular lesson fits the definition of structured inquiry - that is, inquiry where students are given a procedure and questions to help prompt the learning. I've also intentionally included and excluded certain parts of the experimental design. This helps focus the learning objective of the lab, in this case understanding how mass affects inertia. For other investigations, students may plan the entire lab with only a question or a set of materials. Inquiry is open to allowing teachers to plan investigations that span the range of inquiry to suit the needs of the class. For more interesting reading on the subject, visit Just Science Now: What is Inquiry?

  Structured Inquiry is Still Inquiry
  Staircase of Complexity: Structured Inquiry is Still Inquiry
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Newton's First Law: Inertia Kills Investigation

Unit 5: Forces and Motion
Lesson 15 of 18

Objective: SWBAT determine how mass affects the inertia of an object made of matter.

Big Idea: Spinning eggs! Tablecloth magic tricks! Newton's first law of motion can explain it all!

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