The cookbook metaphor is often used to describe confirmatory labs. Much like cooks in a diner or fast-food establishment, students follow a standardized procedure (recipe) to get predictable results. But I suspect we also want students to act as chefs sometimes–creating and testing new recipes and evaluating the results.
As the authors of Open Ended Inquiry suggest, an awareness of levels of inquiry can help teachers scaffold learning experiences: confirmatory, structured, guided, and open inquiry. Using the content from a typical chemistry class (reaction rates), the authors illustrate three strategies that can be used to support open inquiry. They also provide a rubric and suggestions for helping students generate experimental ideas. Eight Ways to Do Inquiry presents a “taxonomy” of teaching strategies that foster inquiry, including protocols, modeling, taxonomy (not just in biology), product testing, design challenges, and discrepant events. [SciLinks: Inquiry]
The author of Adding Inquiry to Cookbook Labs describes how labs in her school were updated to enhance inquiry skills by adding opportunities for more student involvement. Teacher demonstrations were followed by student exploration. She provides examples of two updated investigations that were already part of the curriculum. The cooking metaphor continues with Now You’re Cooking. The author shows how traditional investigations in heat transfer can be upgraded with extensions to basic recipes. [SciLinks: Heat Transfer, Conduction, Convection, and Radiation]
A Virtual Tour of Plate Tectonics show that not all inquiry investigations have to be hands-on. In this minds-on investigation, students examined real data on plate tectonic boundaries, using a chart to organize and summarize their findings (provided in the article). A recent Science Scope article has more ideas: Using Google Earth to Teach Plate Tectonics and Science Explanations [SciLinks: Plate Tectonics]
If your school is using tablets (e.g., iPads), Tablets as Learning Hubs has suggestions for science applications to support inquiry, including using the camera as a magnifier or to investigate lenses, and using QR codes, probeware, and applications that are free or low-cost. For more, see the blog Tablets as Microscopes.
The process of Fracking for Natural Gas is a topic in the news, and the author has suggestions for web-based resources. See also the articles The Keystone XL Pipeline and Fracking Fury, published in previous editions of Science Scope.
Don’t forget to look at the Connections for this issue (September 2012), which includes links to the studies cited in the research article. These Connections also have ideas for handouts, background information sheets, data sheets, rubrics, etc.