A DASH of Inspirationedited by: Judith Longfield

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When most of us think about how we learned science, we generally remember it as a textbook-based affair, with experiments set-up in advance by a teacher. We tend to think of science as a body of facts to be memorized and of inquiry as a set of teacher-prescribed procedures to be followed. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was first confronted by my misconceptions about the nature of science when I realized my young students could tell me many science facts but were unable to apply them. Even after this insight, however, it took a long time for me to ask the critical question: Is science a set of facts or a process? An inquiry institute sparks one teacher to try —and succeed —in using inquiry with her young students.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:35 PM

In an effort to answer the critical question, “Is science a set of facts or a process?”,an elementary teacher attended a two-week summer institute; “Developmental Approaches in Science, Health, and Technology (DASH)”, funded by NSF. In this program, the author learned how to guide children with questions instead of answers. She used KWHL charts with her students to pre-assess them and discover some of their preconceptions. She talks about her use of Socratic questioning to help her children come up with their own ideas. She discusses how she encourages children to ask the question and explore, rather than her providing the answer. The article includes a “Tool Use License” and an activity, “LEGO Rammers”, that she used in her classroom. I recommend this article to any elementary teacher wanting to build an inquiry-based classroom.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

  • on Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:07 PM

With the inspiration from her experience having a car accident and the interest her 2nd grade students showed in exploring the forces that were in motion. Judith Longfield explores how the DASH program helped her in her quest to involve her students in science as a process.

Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton

  • on Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:02 PM

This is a question that puzzle Judith Longfield. She became concerned when her elementary students could tell her many science facts but were unable to apply those facts. She decided to do something about this problem by attending two years of the DASH summer institute, a program created by the Curriculum Research and Development Group at University of Hawaii Armed with the strategies and tools she learned, she decided to make learning timely and relate it to real life. She began with a KWHL chart. She helped her students plan experiments so they could solve a science problem. After the testing was completed, she used Socratic questioning to help the children come up with their own ideas and reinforce what the children had learned with scientific content. They then revisited the KWHL to record their discoveries. She used discussion to help students refine their thinking. She was greatly encouraged that her students were retaining what they were learning because they had become

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

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