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Activities Workshop Notes

TEA Transfer Workshop: Inquiry in Science and Inquiry in the Science Classroom

July 7 - 13, 2003

American Museum of Natural History, New York 

Goals | Parcticipants | Agenda | Meeting Notes

Workshop notes compiled by Marge Porter 


The program of the Activities Workshop was designed with two overarching goals:


The Workshop was held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York from July 7-13 and was facilitated by Arlyn Bruccoli, Marge Porter and Sally Crissman.


Adriana Aquino
American Museum of Natural History
Depts of Education and Ichthyology
New York, NY

Arlyn Bruccoli
Workshop Facilitator/TEA Project Manager
American Museum of Natural History (NYC)& Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab
Hanover, NH

Andy Caldwell
TEA Teacher
Douglas County High School
Castle, Rock, CO

Marilyn Cook
TEA Associate
H.G. Olsen Elementary School
Port Aransas, TX

Sally Crissman
Workshop Facilitator
Cambridge, MA

Jennifer Curtis
TEA Teacher
Shoultes Elementary School
Marysville, WA

Mary Ann DeMello
TEA Teacher
John W. Rogers Middle School
Rockland, MA

Denton Ebel
American Museum of Natural History
Earth and Planetary Sciences

Ethan Forbes
TEA Teacher
Butterfield School
Orange, MA

Shannon Graham
TEA Teacher
Washington School for the Deaf
Vancouver, WA

Eric Hamilton
American Museum of Natural History
National Center for Science, Literacy, Education & Technology

Louise Huffman
TEA Teacher
Kennedy Junior High School
Lisle, IL

Larry Hurst
TEA Associate Teacher
Catlin Gabel School
Portland, OR

Sunny Hwang
American Museum of Natural History
Dept of Paleontology

Bob King
TEA Associate Teacher
White House High School
White House, TN

Tina King
TEA Teacher
West Elementary School
Mt. Juliet, TN

Kolene Krysl
TEA Teacher
Oakdale Elementary School
Bellevue, NE

Jerry Loomer
TEA Associate Teacher
Rapid City Central High School
Rapid City, SD

Hawley Mathieson
TEA Associate Teacher
Washington School for the Deaf
Vancouver, WA

Rob McDonald
TEA Web Master
Rice University
Houston, TX

Ann Murray
TEA Associate Teacher
Butterfield School
Orange, MA

John Niemoth
TEA Associate Teacher
Waterloo Public School
Waterloo, NE

Jason Petula
TEA Teacher
Tunkhannock High School
Tunkhannock, PA

Marge Porter
Workshop Facilitator/TEA Program PI
Somers High School
Somers, CT

Lynette Reep
Sign Language Interpreter
Burlington, VT

Colleen Robinson
TEA Associate Teacher
Helix High School
La Mesa, CA

Dena Rosenberger
TEA Teacher
El Capitan High School
Lakeside, CA

Juanita Ryan
TEA Teacher
Toyon Elementary School
San Jose, CA

Robin Shipp
TEA Associate Teacher
Princeton Christian School
Princeton, FL

Stephanie Shipp
TEA Program PI
Lunar Planetary Institute
Houston, TX

David Silvernail
TEA Evaluator
University of Southern Maine

Bruce Smith
Sign Language Interpreter
New York, NY

Miriam Sutton
TEA Associate Teacher
Newport Middle School
Newport, NC

Steve Stevenoski
TEA Teacher
Lincoln High School
Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Rolf Tremblay
TEA Teacher
Goodman Middle School
Gig Harbor, WA

John Yoo
American Museum of Natural History
National Center for Science, Literacy, Education & Technology

Bess Ward
TEA Researcher/Presenter
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ

Susan Weinstein
Sign Language Interpreter
New York, NY



July 7

  • Check-in at the Lucerne Hotel
  • 5:30 pm Mingle (meet parcticipants who have already arrived)
  • Tuesday
    July 8
    (8:30 AM meet in Lucerne lobby to walk to AMNH)
  • Introductions
  • Goals and Expectations for week
  • Hands on Inquiry
  • Role of Prediction
  • Science Talk by Denton Ebel
  • Discussion with Denon Ebel
  • Afternoon:
  • Hall of Meteorites and Planetary Origins: Science and Design
  •  Presentation and Discussion of Polar Activities – “Sample Meteorite Search” and “Edible Meteorites”
  • Learning Connections
  • Reflection and feedback
  • Wednesday
    July 9

  • Discussion of effective use of models in the classroom. What are some questions we can ask of models?
  • Presentation and Discussion of Polar Activity - “Popcorn Neutrinos”
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback
  • Work in groups to present, discuss, and refine activities – if using a model where is the inquiry?
  • Afternoon:
  •  Science Talk by Bess Ward
  • Discussion with Bess Ward
  • Interview with Scientist:
  • Application of the Inquiry Model
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback
  • Work in groups to present, discuss. And refine activities
  • Learning Connections
  • Reflection and feedback
  • Thursday
    July 10
  • Backward Design and Presentation and Discussion of Polar Activity – “Sediment Tubes”
  • Work in groups to present, discuss, and refine activities
  • Afternoon:
  • Science Talk by Sunny Hwang
  • Tour of Hall Saurischian Dinosaurs
  • Theropods Compared Online Activity
  • Learning Connections
  • Reflection and feedback
  • Group dinner at Senor Swanky
  • Friday
    July 11
  • Science Talk by Adriana Aquino
  • Tour of the Hall of Ocean Life
  • Work in groups to present, discuss. and refine activities
  • Afternoon:
  • Museum Online Resources for Educators: SoS Courses
  • Museum Online Resources for Educators: Resources for Learning
  • Work in groups to present, discuss, and refine activities
  • Learning Connections
  • Reflection and feedback
  • Saturday
    July 12
  • Work in groups to present, discuss. And refine activities
  • Time to explore the Museum
  • Afternoon:
  • Present overview of activities
  • Review of Week, Discussion, and Wrap-up
  • Reflection and feedback
  • Sunday
    July 13

    Safe Travels!

    Safe Travels!



    Meeting Notes

    Tuesday, July 8 9:00-12:45 Introductions
    Goals & Expectations for the week
    Inquiry in the science classroom
    Inquiry from a scientist’s perspective
    Inquiry and the value of prediction
    Blue Ice Activity (see Sally’s handout)
    Predict what will happen to ice cube under 3 different environmental conditions
    What evidence supports that?
    Decide what data to collect
    Carry out the investigation
    Represent the data that has been collected
    Apply to other activities that relate to the phenomenon
    Science Talk by Dr. Denton Ebel, Curator
    Discussion with Denton Ebel
    Questions about meteorite composition
    Looking at sample meteorites
    Hall of Meteorites & Planetary Origins
    Presentations by staff on designing the new hall of meteorites
    Presentation of activities:
    Andy Caldwell: Sample Meteorite Search – In Central Park
    Juanita Ryan: Edible Meteorites
    Learning Connections
    Reflection and Feedback
    Wednesday, July 9 9:00-9:15
    Review Day 1: Marge
    Highlights: sharing experiences & working with colleagues, carrying out the three activities, meteorite samples, learning about meteorites from a scientist

    Lowlights: group was Split on the internal museum presentation; Technology problems, need for breaks (mention food thing)
    9:15-9:30 Overview Day 2: Arlyn
    9:30-10:30 Discussion of Inquiry: Sally & group
    Reflect on Journals: Sally & group
    Use Blue Ice Activity to apply “Backwards Design”: Sally & group
    10 Min Break
    10:40-11:15 Models
    10 Min Break

    Popcorn Neutrinos: Jason

    12:30-2:00 Lunch
    2:00-2:40 Presentation - Dr. Bess Ward
    Discussion with Bess Ward
    Scientists are constantly being surprised by their findings
    Students can challenge each other the way that scientists can
    Teachers & Scientists
    both justify the need for their work & projects
    share results
    give/receive feedback
    ask questions
    change and adapt investigations
    felt that it was helpful/necessary to bring scientists into the classroom
    Working with a scientist changed the view of most TEA teachers’ views of “science”
    10 Min Break
    3:30-4:20 Individual Work: Apply design template to lesson (prepare for small group discussion about individual lessons)
    Learning connections and reflections
    Ideas from Inquiry (blue ice) discussion
  • Pure inquiry, according to experts, occurs when students develop their own questions
  • One group suggests that students do an inquiry activity twice…first with teacher’s question, second time with their own questions
  • Younger students need to stay focused & to be organized
  • Teachers decide what the parameters are
  • SHARE GOALS with students daily
  • Question about how science process is done in high school…is the standard approach still used? Sally: Keep in mind that the standard format of sci. process is different from inquiry…one is organized in advance, the other is more spontaneous and left up to the students
  • One idea for elementary school…”How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?”
  • Keep asking students to support their ideas; How do they know? “Structured questioning”
  • You don’t have to learn everything through inquiry!
  • Giving students choices along the way…different ways to demonstrate their understanding gives students “ownership” of their work in science
  • Asking good questions, seeking information, and developing reasonable conclusions should really be the goal of inquiry (science literate adults…science for all Americans)
  • Models:
    Popcorn Neutrinos:
  • Background info on neutrinos
  • Began with model of the atom…
  • subatomic parcticles/radioactive decay
  • Quarks: 3 per neutron
  • Popcorn Neutrino Lesson: Mass is lost-How would you design an experiment so that the missing mass was accounted for? (group brainstormed ideas)
  • This activity leads to many ideas, questions, and possible follow-up investigation
  • Sally: What was his goal? Using a model to drive home the idea of conservation of mass & to relate missing mass to concept of neutrinos
  • IF you get off track by changing the focus of a classroom investigation then you have not accomplished your learning (understanding) goals - Do the students “get” the analogy?
  • Discussion of strengths and weaknesses of the model (ask kids: How is the model like the real thing? How is it different?
  • Select a model that you use in class and answer the questions that are posted (see below), then discuss in teams
  • What is the science phenomenon that the model is intended to explain?
  • Why use a model rather than the phenomenon itself?
  • What are the strengths of the model?
  • What are the limitations or drawbacks?
  • How can you find out how your students understand how the model is or is not like the thing that it represents? (formative assessment)
  • Thursday, July 10 9:00-9:08
    Review Day 2: Marge
    Highlights: model & model discussion, Bess Ward’s talk and follow-up discussion, free tickets, exchanging ideas with colleagues, more breaks

    Lowlights: sitting still in the dark after lunch
    9:08-9:15 Overview Day 3: Arlyn
    Discussion/Insights about the definition of inquiry or the value and use of models
  • important to keep focused on the goal; how does the model support the goals that have been established? How does it strengthen the curriculum?
  • Also important not to allow the lesson to veer off on tangents
  • There is value in allowing students to identify the pros & cons of the model
  • Important to take a critical look at models that we currently use in the classroom and how we use them
  • Assessment and use of rubrics is important; allows students to recognize the parameters that have been established
  • 9:30-10:00
    Follow-up with model discussion using Sally’s guiding questions from yesterday
  • There is a comfort level in identifying the scientific phenomenon associated with the model
  • Question #5 was the most challenging (How can you find out how your students understand how the model is or is not like the thing that it represents? (Formative assessment)
  • Many suggested that students identify the ways that the model represents the real phenomenon & the ways that it does not.
  • 10 Min Break
    Louise Huffman: Using “Understanding by Design” to rework a polar classroom activity, “Sediment Tubes”
  • Groups given various “sediments”…generate ideas about movement due to wind (Also listed: gravity, water, ice, freeze-thaw, etc.)
  • Lots of questions were raised as a result of the observations: THIS IS INQUIRY!
  • Sediment Tube Activity (see handout)
  • Using “Backwards Design” in order to design inquiry lessons
  • 10 Min Break
    12:00-12:30 Individual work with design template – continued from last night’s “homework”
    12:30-2:00 LUNCH
    2:00-2:40 Science talk – Sunny Hwang
    3:00-4:00 Tour Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs
    4:00-5:00 Theropods Compared: Online Activity with Arlyn
    5:00-5:15 Learning connections and reflections
    Friday, July 11 9:05-9:10 Overview Day 4: Arlyn
    Review Day 3: Marge
    Highlights: Sunny Hwang’s Presentation on cladistics; Louise’s sediment tube activity and its corresponding focus on inquiry; collegial interactions; time to work on lesson

    Lowlights: Crowded/noisy museum hall; not enough time with Sunny; On-line activity was hectic
    9:15-10:15 Science Talk by Adriana Aquino: Systematics as it applies to biodiversity (note: cladistics is a method within systematics)
    10 Min Break
    10:20-11:00 Tour: Hall of Ocean Life
    Group Work
  • Goal is to use the template (Understanding by Design) in order to rework our own lessons (see clean copies with one addition)
  • Be certain to refer to Sally’s guidelines on giving & receiving feedback
  • Get through at least one team member’s lesson
  • Each team will report back to the larger group on their accomplishments, struggles, and insights @ 12:15
  • Note: goal of workshop…post revised activities/lessons on the TEA web site (no stipend until that happens!)
  • Team feedback…teachers:
  • Saw changes in expectations
  • Saw changes in amount of background information
  • Noted use of models
  • Distinguished between units and individual lessons (i.e. narrowing down the focus)
  • Got a better understanding of closure (ending the activity)
  • Identified grade level appropriateness
  • Edited classroom worksheets
  • Discussed modes of assessment
  • Got ideas for the importance of the lesson (goal…not just for fun)
  • Identified the goal as it relates to the standards & curriculum
  • Refined terminology, protocols, etc.
  • Added new “hooks”
  • Found new resources
  • Discussed pre-activities that complement the lesson
  • 12:30-2:00 Lunch

    John Yoo – On-line museum courses

    Eric Hamilton – On-line museum resources (“Ology”, etc.)

    10 Min Break
    3:15-4:15 Group work with same focus as in AM (see additional comments above)
    4:15-4:30 Discussion/Insights about the definition of inquiry: Scientists that we have worked with continue to emphasize that “inquiry leads to discovery often by accident”
    Learning connections and reflections
    Work on activity based on feedback
    Continue to adapt definition of inquiry in journals
    Saturday, July 12 8:05-8:10 Overview Day 5: Arlyn
    Review Day 4: Marge
    Highlights: Adriana’s Presentation on systematics; Museum tour of the Hall of Ocean Life; On-line museum resources & courses; collegial interactions; time to work in groups

    Lowlights: Crowded/noisy museum hall; Expectations for group work not completely clear; room is crowded; more time in groups desireable
    The future of TEA – Steph
    Funding period info.
    Continued support for TEAs
    8:30-10:00 Group Work (continued from yesterday)
    10:00-1:00 Time in the museum
    1:00-1:45 Details about reimbursement
    Using the on-line template in order to post the revised activities
    Share ideas for the TEA Web site
    Feedback about journals requested
    In the future the “form-based” option for journal entry may exist
    Comment: a more clear navigational tool to access teachers who has returned from the field
    Take suggestions from the group (written feedback on index cards)

    Present individual work, focusing on content goal, learning goal, changes made to the activity/lesson

    Examples of changes made to various activities:

  • Added a prediction section
  • Tightened up instructions
  • Established/Improved the rubric
  • Connected to a current field research project in the polar regions
  • Made the phenomenon being observed more realistic
  • Made the activity more refined
  • Made it more student-led (e.g.: students develop their own models, rather than a model that is assigned by the teacher)
  • Converted activities from “cool” and “fun” to being standards & curriculum specific Developed new components for the activity that allowed students to think, predict, compare, and investigate
  • Improved the science content of the activity
  • Fine-tuned teacher/student worksheets
  • Clarified terminology
  • Increased the number of ways that students might carry out inquiry during the lesson
  • Determined additional ways to assess whether students understood/learned the new concept/phenomenon
  • Adapted lesson for different grade levels

  • 3:00-3:30 Wrap-up & Evaluation

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