As an alternative to traditional data collection, there are numerous Internet data sets that can be accessed by my students that will allow them to engage in different aspects of scientific inquiry including posing questions, planning and conducting investigations, analyzing data, formulating data-based explanations, representing data, and communicating findings. These data sets are available from government agencies, global corporations, and universities. Benefits of using online data sets include saving time, working around constraints of available equipment and geographic locations, and increasing student interest and motivation. In addition, these data sets can easily be incorporated into the 5E Learning Cycle that is a powerful tool for teaching by inquiry. Key guidelines to using this technology include:
1. Limiting student searches to targeted websites and simplified data sets.
2. Make the learning relevant.
3. Integrate data into inquiry that reflect the scientific process.
4. Contact education centers to request help in accessing the data.
Some examples of Internet data sets can be found at my Wiki page:
Another valuable tool I learned about this week is the use of Web-based inquiry projects. These projects go hand in hand with Internet data sets because they can be used to engage learners with using the scientific process. These projects allow students to collaborate and explore meaningful questions about everyday experiences. Making learning relevant for students is an essential component of addressing misconceptions and inquiry-based learning. What I like most about these projects is they get students thinking and working as actual scientists. Key characteristics of Web-based inquiry projects include: the project is learner centered (directed at the learner), the project supports the learning of a scientific concept, the project is Web-based, and the project allows for all aspects of inquiry to take place. A great example of Web-based inquiry projects can be found at http://wise.berkeley.edu