Science Companion, an inquiry-based, Pre-K-6 science program.
“Science can be introduced to children well or poorly. If poorly, children can be turned away from science; they can develop a lifelong antipathy; they will be in a far worse condition than if they had never been introduced to science at all.” Isaac Asimov
The core philosophy behind inquiry-based, student-centered learning is that students learn best while doing science rather than merely reading about this or that aspect of science. This pedagogy captures the sense of exhilaration around the sense of discovery in this engagement, inviting students to become active agents in their own learning.
First, students move from ‘what’ is happening in a given problem to ‘why’ it is happening, building a sense of relevance that deepens their understanding and retention. The child becomes a problem solver, and building the capacity to make observations, develop explanatory models based on their data, seek and consider concepts and ideas related to those models, and see new applications for them. In essence, the child becomes a junior scientist.
Next, inquiry-based learning challenges learners to explore the ‘how’s’ of learning, both in terms of the subject material, and also in terms of their own learning process. Students become self-reflective and self-directed, setting learning and development goals for themselves and monitoring their own process. Extensive research shows that this ‘what/why/how’ axis of student-centered learning has much more impact than other common teaching methodologies , and is what all of the agencies involved with standards development are demanding.
Ultimately, inquiry-based pedagogy becomes a process of learning how to learn: in the development of capacities and with a sense of discovery, students become life-long learners, understanding that skills and content are transferable and creatively constructing new knowledge.
The “I Wonder” Circle® is at the heart of Science Companion’s approach to inquiry-based science learning, providing an enticing visual of the process of doing science.
- I Wonder: notice, ask questions, state problems
- I Think: consider, gather information, predict
- I Try: experiment, model, test ideas, repeat
- I Observe: watch, examine, measure
- I Record: record data, organize, describe, classify, graph, draw
- I Discover: look for patterns, interpret, reflect, conclude, communicate discoveries