Science Inquiries

Inquiry Type - Experimental Design
Student Experience - Students are asked to design their own scientific experiments in various areas of
science after learning about observation and inference, use of variables and devising fair tests.
Students are evaluated on a number of inquiry skills based on a model outlining a spectrum of skills from
novice to expert level.
- discrepant events were used to stimulate interest and a sense of wonder
- observational and critical thinking exercises were used to set expectations
In addition, the classroom used the Restitution model of behaviour support to encourage a sense of
openness and acceptance while engaging in health risk-taking educational opportunities.
Examples of experimental topics include:
Physical or chemical changes - what has been observed?
How can we make the best plastic?
Motion and acceleration - a variety of experiments where students choose variables to manipulate,
changing their experimental design.
What are the effects of pollutants and limiting factors on the growth of plants - What is the effect of salt
on plant growth (or nitrogen, or other chemicals)?
What are the levels of oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus in our local lake and how to they change? Why
do they change?
How can we model the effects of earthquakes on building structures?
How can we model the mantle within the Earth?
What happens when we change factors in plate tectonics?
How can we use UV sensitive beads to test effectiveness of sunscreen?
How can you build an electrical circuit to meet a need? (flashlight, speaker, signal light, radio, fan) How
can you build an effective electrical cell? How can it be made more effective?
How can you build a solar oven (and make the best 'smores)?
-students reported that their critical thinking skills were more engaged than when doing lab work that
was not independently designed. Students felt more empowered and their achievement rate was much
Inquiry Type - Research and Application
Another area of interest to students was Aboriginal Science. In the area of ethnobotany, we asked the
How did (or do) Aboriginal people of BC use plants as medicine?
-bearing in mind some knowledge is sacred, students sought to find out what types of plants were used
in which ways, and by whom.
-some common non-toxic plants were collected and students made teas of their leaves or crushed them
to make a salve.
-some non-sacred knowledge was shared by a member of the local aboriginal community.
-students reflected on Western practices of medicine and Alternative Health Therapies as well as
traditional medicine from around the world to frame our understanding of BC Aboriginal medicine.
As another comparison with other people of the world, students were asked to do the following:
Build your own constellation and name it, come up with a myth for it that is similar to those for the
other constellations. How is this similar and different to the stories told by different cultures of the sun,
moon and stars? Include BC Aboriginal understandings in your comparison.
Aboriginal community members were invited to share stories and some students of different cultural
heritage chose to investigate the stories of their ancestors to share with the group to better develop
global understanding.
-Nancy McAleer