You are here

Inquiry First.

It can be nerve-racking for teachers to surrender control of a classroom in order to let inquiry-based learning in.  A recent post on eMINTs' blog, "Networked Teaching & Learning," guides teachers on ways in which to move gradually toward a model of open inquiry rather than diving in with both feet.  Among the recommendations offered: consider where each lesson lies on a "continuum of inquiry"; some are more naturally suited to closed inquiry sessions than they are to open inquiry.  In addition, the article suggests that a teacher try to limit the questions that he or she provides, allowing student questions to propel the experience.   "There are many small things we can do in order to make inquiry part of our lessons and units of study without jumping into student-led inquiry headfirst," the article states. "If you struggle seeing your students as able to complete an inquiry... Read More

Let's face it: Social media plays an integral in the average high school student's life. While some parents and educators might be prone to view Twitter, Facebook, and the like as distractions to the young people in their lives, an interesting blog post by George Washington University biomedical engineering student William Broman suggests that there's a flip side to that assumption.  His article on US News & World Report's STEM Education blog suggests ways in which creative educators might consider leveraging the technology to encourage engagement in STEM subjects.  Broman concludes, "Higher education, including my school, and businesses are using Twitter and Facebook to communicate effectively with students or customers and solve problems--it's time for high schools to do the same."

These days, there's no need for anyone interested in pursing greater knowledge of STEM subjects to be constrained by course offerings at their local schools and universities. The Internet opens up a world of possibilities for the studious and curious alike. has put together a list of 50 free, online sources of STEM education, including lectures by Ivy-league professors and Nobel Laureates, IT tutorials, educational media from lie likes of National Geographic and NASA, entire courses, and scholarly articles.

A post by Grace Suh on the Citizen IBM blog offers a former English major's perspective on the importance of math education for both college and career. Suh emphasizes the need to "bring math to life for young people" through an approach that offers context in addition to conveying skills.  Resources that she suggests include IBM's free iPad app, "Minds of Modern Mathematics," and the hands-on learning website, Teachers TryScience.

An interesting infographic by illustrates the downward trajectory of STEM education in the US. Starting in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, the infographic tracks various threads of data through the years, from STEM doctoral degrees conferred to US versus non-US citizens annually to the percentage of top-performing high school students who major in STEM.  It's a well-designed, thought-provoking piece that brings the current challenges facing STEM education to light in living color. STEM Infographic


A lot of learning can happen at the junction of math and music, according to music teacher (and blogger) Ruth Catchen. From learning fractions to gaining an understanding of space and proportion, students can pick up many mathematically relevant skills from their music studies. "The arts inspire creativity, self-expression, critical thinking and problem solving," she writes. "It is an opportunity not only for students to open the door to see how things are made, why things happen, and discover another way to do something, but also to experience in real life and action how mathematical concepts and functions relate to music in a tangible way."

Treehugger takes the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the "best-of" in many green-related categories, from people to products. In the "Science" category, Treehugger honors inspirational initiatives, projects, and products that are making a real difference in the world. Of particular note: "Rescue Spider" by the Frauhofer Institute, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, studies on what is killing bees, the Graphene Water Filter, and the "Seafood Watch" app.  Check out Treehugger's slideshow of the 2012 Best of Green Science honorees here.

Nitya Jacob, assistant professor of biology at Emory’s Oxford College, always dreamed of being published in the prestigious journal, Science.  As her career progressed and she made the decision to become a teacher, she assumed that she had next to no chance of making that dream a reality.  How wrong she was.  The next issue of Science will feature Nitya's paper, "Investigating Arabia Mountain: A Molecular Approach," which grew out of a lab module Nitya developed for her freshman and sophomore students.  “I want my students to be aware of their biological surroundings,” Jacob says. “It’s so easy to go about life without ever thinking about what’s around you.” In addition to the pending publication of her work in Science, Nitya was also honored with a 2011 Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction for her lab module. Inspirational!
Via esciencecommons.blogspot... Read More

A message that has been popping up with increasing frequency in the mainstream media recently is that the future of our country depends in large part on our success at training the next generation of STEM workers.  Yet all too often, an ominous warning accompanies that message: American students are falling behind in STEM subjects, and at this rate we the U.S. soon will lose its competitive edge in the global economy.

What will it take to ensure a successful transition into the new economy?  Addressing K-12 STEM education is imperative.  Everything from the curriculum to the physical environment of the classroom could be adapted to facilitate the effective delivery of STEM subjects for maximum impact on  our students -- our future.  According to the "Getting Smarter" blog, "Instead of teaching technology or engineering with a chalkboard, students will learn with interactive smart boards, digital devices like iPads... Read More

A new post on the Citizen IBM blog looks at how to motivate students in STEM subjects by design; that is, engage them in real problem-solving rather than merely "telling" them about science. "Design is a process by which people from diverse fields make decisions about the form, function, and use of materials to create artifacts, systems and tools that solve a range of problems, large and small," the article states. "By focusing on design, one learns how to identify a problem or need, how to consider design options and constraints, and how to plan, model, test and iterate solutions to vexing problems, making higher-order thinking skills tangible and visible." The post includes a straightforward video on differentiated instruction. Given the national imperative of science literacy, the mounting evidence that hands-on, inquiry-based learning is a critical underpinning of education today cannot be ignored.
... Read More


Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer