Now that the 8th grade science CMAS testing is almost over, 8th graders can take a deep breath and start their inquiry projects on building water bottle rockets. This is great opportunity for open inquiry as ample time can be given for students to research, design, test, redesign, retest, and reflect on their rockets. While doing this, students develop an understanding for Newton’s laws of motion as well as the different forces acting upon their rocket.
Inquiry has a positive impact as students develop their own understandings at their own pace. Students are engaged, they collaborate, they make mistakes and learn from them, misbehaviors all but seem to vanish. Students hopefully not only develop more long-term understandings of the content, but also know how physical science can apply to their lives.
The drawback to open inquiry is time. With the demands of the CMAS test covering random material from grades 6-8, there is no time for open inquiry until this time of year. I still struggle with student accountability with inquiry projects. I often feel the need to still guide them to learning that still needs to take place.