tion, summarize data, develop charts and data, explain statistical procedures they used, and construct a reasonable and logical argument for their answer to the question, “Is city park lake polluted?” “And, if so, what is the human influence on the pollution?” The class concludes that, even though city park lake experiences variations and changes in many factors, it is not polluted.
For the final assessment, Ms. Idoni presents a new problem and asks each student to prepare a report describing how he or she would investigate the problem. Here is the problem: over several weeks there is a massive fish kill in the lake. Everyone suspects pollution — of some sort. But, no one knows exactly how to investigate the problem. The one thing they have discovered is that coliform bacteria have not been found in the lake. Students are to propose an inquiry that might be used by the City Council to address this problem.
Ms. Idoni is pleased with the student work and certain that it demonstrates significant learning. Their work has provided opportunities for all students to develop the abilities of scientific inquiry described in the National Science Education Standards — her primary learning goal for the full inquiry. She also realizes that the experiences provided students with the background they need to develop deeper understanding of many science concepts and the connections between science and personal and social issues. Finally, Ms. Idoni uses the experience of doing a full inquiry to review and strengthen students’ understandings about scientific inquiry.
Ms. Idoni thinks the experience is important because it provides students with an understanding of the ways that scientists pursue questions that they identify as important. It also gives students one opportunity to use all of the abilities described for the Science as Inquiry standard in the National Science Education Standards. She knows that for students to develop these abilities, they must actively participate in scientific investigations and use the cognitive and manipulative skills associated with the formulation of scientific explanations.
As she initiates the activity, Ms. Idoni knows that some students will have trouble with variables and controls in experiments. Further, students often have trouble with data that seem anomalous and in proposing explanations based on evidence and logic rather than on their beliefs about the natural world.
Ms. Idoni uses the initial field experience as a way to make the investigation meaningful to students. She understands there are several