"The important thing is to never stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
Learning through Inquiry
Inquiry engages learners in a dynamic process of being open to wonder as they come to know and understand the world around them. As a way of learning, inquiry is woven throughout all aspects of life and is essential to the way in which knowledge is constructed.
In the Sciences Program, students work collaboratively to explore new concepts and deepen their learning in the sciences. They pose questions, research, explore, solve problems and make claims based on relevant evidence. Learning outcomes across the curriculum are carefully woven together to shape authentic and diverse learning tasks with real world connections.
As student interest is foundational to success in learning, teachers support students in designing inquiry projects linked to curricula. For example: All students are expected to learn about life-cycles in Grade 3. Rather than all learning about the same animal, students in this program investigate an animal that inspires their interest. In order to deepen learning as well as explore scientific practices, part of the inquiry would involve bringing in animals to study, posing questions, finding answers and observing and classifying different animals (insects, mammals, fish). It could involve working alongside scientists who study animals or going on location to examine the habitats of different animals. Students, on a field trip or an outing with their family, will make connections between the inquiries at school and the world around them. Out of the wealth of information gathered, the students, with the support of their teacher, peers, and family, engage in critical thinking, making reasoned judgments and drawing conclusions. Ultimately, students gain a much deeper understanding of how knowledge is created in the science community.
Literacy through Scientific Inquiry
Inquiry based learning naturally enhances the development of literacy skills and places emphasis on the communication of ideas throughout the learning process. Reading and writing is the foundation to all scientific literacy learning and is nurtured at both school and home. Using reading, writing, and a variety of technologies is critical to the development of multiple literacies and is vital to an inquiry-based approach to learning. Students are supported and encouraged to become confident, capable and responsible users of information. This includes:
- Interpreting tables, graphs & diagrams
- Filtering information on the internet
- Gathering relevant resources from the library
- Interviewing significant individuals
- Accessing home and community sources of information
At the completion of an inquiry project, students communicate what they have learned using a variety of multimedia formats, including:
- Technology (photography, SMARTboards, video, google applications, SeeSaw, etc.)
- Models and diagrams
- Written reports
- Engaging videos and interactive websites
Reflection is an integral part of inquiry and often leads to new inquiries, discoveries, curiousities, wonders and learning goals.
There are some common characteristics which are evident in students who learn best through science inquiry and project-based learning. These include some or all of the following:
- Imagination and curiosity
- Flexible thinking
- Strength in collaborating and communicating ideas
- Ability to work independently and interdependently in diverse group settings
- Persistence—the drive to understand the world
- Creative and critical thinker
- Socially skilled
- Adaptable to change
- Open to working with a variety of tools, technologies, methods and sources
- Perseverance when faced with new challenges
- Passionate about animals and the environment
- Think with their words, their drawings, their heads and their hearts
We encourage families to reflect on these characteristics and engage in discussions with school staff to help determine whether an inquiry approach to learning is appropriate for their child.