In This Issue
Theme: Inquiry-based Science Education
From the Editor: Michele K. Lombard
Abstract: Educators have long promoted an inquiry method of teaching science but researchers have found that most elementary classroom science teaching is dominated by direct instruction. Teachers of science have been taught the same way and find inquiry teaching to be a challenge. A Virginia liberal arts college developed a series of science-by -inquiry courses expressly for pre-service elementary teachers to model the inquiry approach while addressing key science concepts. This study of the project found varying levels of inquiry modeling but an overall positive student response and a positive direction in course evolution.
Abstract: This paper reviews several indicators suggesting that the United States educational system is failing to provide the talent needed to keep the US competitive in a global economy. It examines the performance of US students in international assessments (TIMMS and PISA) and then compares some of the steps taken in the US intending to improve our performance with practices in countries performing well on these assessments.
Abstract: Presented is an overview of the process of application and acceptance for Virginia Junior Academy of Science. Two exceptional 2006 papers are presented an exemplars to the process. Papers presented are authored by David J. Hanna and Anne K. Minoff.
Abstract: This article focuses on teaching science as inquiry to preservice elementary education teachers through analysis of key science process skills and use of the 5 Es instructional model. One way to do this is through the use of interactive science learning centers.
Abstract: Case studies provide an important tool for inquiry -based science education but require careful consideration of how class activities promote specific learning objectives. Here, we present a case study of the implementation of the Clean Water Act in Stroubles Creek, Virginia. In contrast to a lecture format, our approach achieves learning objectives by requiring students to ask and answer a series of questions related to the case study. First, we present a “teaching case” to be distributed to students. Second, we provide “teaching notes” for instructors to facilitate student activities. Third, we report on our use of this case study during a 50-minute session for an undergraduate course in conservation biology.
Abstract: This article defines each of these two different instructional terms and explains how and why each of them is supposed to be present in our science classrooms. It then continues as an examination of how the use of inquiry based methods of science instruction creates differentiation within the science classroom.
Abstract: For 30 rising juniors and seniors from across Virginia, learning does not stop when the school year ends. As participants in the Governor’s School for Life Sciences and Medicine, they experienced a unique university/K12 partnership designed to meet the needs of gifted learners. Talented and gifted secondary students truly benefit intellectually, psychologically, and socially from participation in an intense residential science program.
Abstract: In May 2007, George Mason University began a new mentorship program for undergraduate mathematics students. The objective of the program is to enhance undergraduate research experiences in the mathematical and computational sciences. The students in this program work on a year-long project with selected junior and senior faculty, and participate in group seminars organized around a yearly computational theme. The program has received initial five-year funding through the National Science Foundations (NSF) Computational Science Training for Undergraduates in the Mathematical Sciences (CSUMS) initiative. The NSF funding provides each student with a generous stipend, use of a Mason laptop computer, and travel funds during their year-long program. The more formal structure of the program is designed to improve learning outcomes for our students beyond a traditional student research project. Although this program is designed to help advanced undergraduates in mathematics acquire research skills in Computational Science, the peer support structures used in our mentorship program could be used effectively for students at all levels and in all disciplines.
Abstract: Inquiry teaching is about students discovering the meanings of concepts for themselves. The students ask questions and look for answers so they can understand these concepts. This article shows teachers how to adapt their lessons and activities to an inquiry teaching model.