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Frequently Asked Questions

QIs this book intended as a textbook or full curriculum for physical science?

ANo. Inquiry in Action is intended as a resource for guided, inquiry-based activities that teachers and students can do to supplement textbooks, kits, or other physical science curriculum used in the classroom.

QFor what grade range is this book appropriate?

AThe book is designed to be used in grades 3–6. For such a wide range, activities were developed to demonstrate phenomena that can be explored at many different levels. At the lower grade range, you might want to focus mostly on having students describe macroscopic observations and encourage them to develop testable questions. For older students, you might want to begin to explore why certain phenomena occur on the molecular level.

QDo I need to do all the activities in an investigation to get anything out of it?

AWe don't think so. In many cases, you can look through an investigation and pick activities that fit well with topics you are covering in class. But you can also pick a series of related activities to effectively explore a concept.

QCan I photocopy material I've downloaded to use with my students?

AYes, please do! This new edition includes more activity sheets, student readings, and assessments than the previous editions. Please photocopy these sections and any other content you download from the website. Some of the black and white illustrations, particularly of molecules, came out darker than we expected. We’re sorry about that. Adjusting your photocopier may make these illustrations more usable with students.

QWhen doing guided-inquiry activities, it’s often difficult to assess student performance and knowledge. How should I use the assessments included in Inquiry in Action?

AWe included two major categories of assessment in Inquiry in Action: formative and summative. As students conduct the activities and use the activity sheets, we see the assessment as being more formative as students develop an understanding of the science concepts and the processes of inquiry. There is a rubric at the end of the activities which can be used to assign a grade to student work in the activities. Although a grade can be assigned, we view this as formative work like homework that you might also grade. But you would probably treat this grade differently than a test grade.

A more summative assessment is at the end of each investigation in a section called “Review and apply.” Here students review what they did in the activities and answer questions based on the activities and on readings related to the activities. The Review and apply worksheets have both short answer and multiple choice questions. Students also do a new activity, which can be treated as a performance assessment.

QWhom should I contact if I have questions about activities or information in the book or website?

APlease feel free to contact us for questions about the book or website. We'd love to hear from you.

QI do not see a periodic table in Inquiry in Action. Why not?

AIn developing Inquiry in Action, the decision was made to focus on common everyday phenomena that offer opportunities for student questioning and further exploration. It became apparent very quickly that some of these “common” observations can be approached at many different levels of complexity. Explaining phenomena on the molecular level is limited to explanations that go only as far as is necessary to illustrate a qualitative model of atoms, ions, and molecules that can help explain the observed phenomena. Discussing electron orbitals or valence electrons and the periodic table did not seem to serve this purpose.