Using Guided Inquiry Tools with Online Geosciences Data from the Great Lakes
All major science education reform documents call for a shift from traditional structured lessons to more inquiry-based instruction in science classrooms. This shift requires teachers to generate new methods to present students with the opportunity to engage in scientific experiences through observations and data analysis. One approach is to use inquiry-based activities with online research. To ensure that teachers have the data necessary to conduct investigations, a website entitled Teaching with Great Lakes Data was developed. Given the emphasis on incorporating more inquiry-based instruction into science classrooms, the Virtual Vee Map guided inquiry tool is used.
This Virtual Vee Map is used in two small studies, using the data from the Teaching with Great Lakes Data website. One study is with 7th grade students and the other is with pre-service elementary teachers. Both studies intended to expose these two groups to authentic opportunities to develop their scientific inquiry skills. However, the pre-service elementary teachers and the 7th grade students both struggled with writing a testable question, with using technology, and with constructing graphs and other mathematics. Consequently, using real data in the classroom faces real challenges for both teachers and researchers intending to make their data available for use by teachers and their students. Other methods are suggested to support the infusion of online data use into science classrooms.
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