Inquiry-Based Learning

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To provide fifth-graders with a learning experience that promotes retention and a deeper understanding of science curricula, the district’s STEM department has launched a new teaching initiative.

Through professional development, Dr. Amy Meyer, director of STEM, worked with a team of fifth-grade teachers to develop lesson plans based on student inquiry. These lessons encourage students to begin exploring science units prior to receiving traditional instruction.

For example, students learning about chemical energy are tasked with analyzing the reactions of glow sticks at different temperatures and then drawing inferences. The students’ conclusions guide the teachers’ instruction and help determine the focus of the lesson.

“This is not a traditional way of teaching,” Dr. Meyer said. “Typically, teachers instruct students prior to any exploration. However, research has proven that by allowing students to gain knowledge independently from real-life experiences, they will have better retention of the subject and develop a deeper understanding of the material.”