Scientific Inquiry in the Junior School
Children are natural scientists. Their innate curiosity and inquisitiveness are driven by an intrinsic force to learn about the world around them. To make sense and meaning through investigation with what has been given to them – their senses -- is natural to them.
Observation, an objective process of analytically gathering data through the use of our senses, is one of the most basic skills in science and one which is essential in learning other process skills. Scientists can observe, in many ways – with their senses or with the aid of tools such as a microscope, revealing a completely new and wonderful hidden microscopic world.
Beginning their ‘Who We Are’ transdisciplinary unit on the effective interactions between human body systems, Grade 3 students engaged in a scientific investigation. This introduction to the human body allowed the students to observe human tissue samples under a microscope. The students worked in collaborative groups to gain basic skills in microscope use, skills in recording their qualitative observations, and experience in conducting investigations in a scientific setting with procedures and guidelines to follow. This inquiry was to provoke curiosity. To create provocations in learning is to open doorways for developing creativity, critical thinking, and meaningful questioning habits. When we create provocations for our learners, we inspire the beginning of exploration.
This open-ended investigation led to discussions and further understanding regarding the body’s levels of organization, how we can interpret observations, and how to formulate questions that will drive student-led inquiry in the weeks to come.
JS Science Coordinator