Recently in 8th grade science, I used the See, Think, Wonder lesson which lends itself to a nice inquiry lesson. I use this lesson as a launch to better understand the Law of Conservation of Matter. Students are given steel wool, a beaker, vinegar, a balloon, and a triple-beam, balance. Steel wool is soaked in vinegar to remove to varnish layer exposing the iron to allow it to rust. They put a balloon on the beaker to make it a closed system and find the mass. As the balloon begins to rust, they notice that the balloon gets sucked into the beaker as the oxygen in the air gets converted to iron oxide. All the while, the mass of the system does not change. Students are asked to discuss and write their observations and what they think is happening. Often with a little guidance, by showing them the chemcal equation, 4 Fe + 3 O2 --> 2Fe2O3, students begin to realize that the atoms are "just changing dance partners" in htis chemical reaction. The same amount of atoms that go into the reaction, come out of the reaction, thus the total mass stays the same.
I find that guided inquiry works well keeping with a pacing guide and the myriad of mandated testing. I save full inquiry for the end of the yearwhere students can take their time and make decisions what they want to research. Seventh graders will do thier science fair and 8th graders will build water bottle rockets.
In my inquiry group's last discussion, we talked about next steps with blended learning. We will look at some different example of what blended learning can look like and what research supports the benefits of using blended learning.