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Doing Science:

The Process of

Scientific Inquiry

under a contract from the

National Institutes of Health

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Center for Curriculum Development

5415 Mark Dabling Boulevard

Colorado Springs, CO 80918

BSCS Development Team

Writing Team

Rodger W. Bybee, Principal Investigator

Allison Aclufi, Berendo Middle School, Los Angeles, California

Mark V. Bloom, Project Director

Michelle Fleming, Lasley Elementary School, Lakewood,

Jerry Phillips, Curriculum Developer

Colorado

Nicole Knapp, Curriculum Developer

Michael Klymkowsky, University of Colorado, Boulder

Carrie Zander, Project Assistant

Susan Laursen, CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder

Lisa Pence, Project Assistant

Quinn Vega, Montclair State University, Upper Montclair,

Terry Redmond, Project Assistant

New Jersey

Ted Lamb, Evaluator

Tom Werner, Union College, Schenectady, New York

Barbara Perrin, Production Manager

Diane Gionfriddo, Photo Researcher

Field-Test Teachers

Lisa Rasmussen, Graphic Designer

Carol Craig, Killingly Intermediate School, Dayville, Connecticut

Stacey Luce, Production Specialist

Janet Erickson, C.R. Anderson Middle School, Helena, Montana

Scott Molley, John Baker Middle School, Damascus, Maryland

BSCS Administrative Staff

Nancy Nega, Churchville Middle School, Elmhurst, Illinois

Carlo Parravano, Chair, Board of Directors

Kathy Peavy, Hadley Middle School, Wichita, Kansas

Rodger W. Bybee, Executive Director

Donna Roberts, West Marion Junior High School, Foxworth,

Janet Carlson Powell, Associate Director, Chief Science

Mississippi

Education Officer

Erin Parcher-Wartes, Eagle School of Madison, Madison,

Pamela Van Scotter, Director, Center for Curriculum

Wisconsin

Development

John Weeks, Northeast Middle School, Jackson, Tennessee

National Institutes of Health

Cover Design

Alison Davis, Writer (Contractor), National Institute of General

Salvador Bru and Medical Arts and Photography Branch, NIH

Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

Irene Eckstrand, Program Director, NIGMS

This material is based on work supported by the National Institutes

Anthony Carter, Program Director, NIGMS

of Health under Contract No. 263-02-C-0061. Any opinions,

James Anderson, Program Director, NIGMS

findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this

Jean Chin, Program Director, NIGMS

publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect

Richard Ikeda, Program Director, NIGMS

the view of the funding agency.

Bruce Fuchs, Director, Office of Science Education (OSE)

Lisa Strauss, Project Officer, OSE

Copyright © 2005 by BSCS. All rights reserved. You have the

Dave Vannier, Professional Development, OSE

permission of BSCS to reproduce items in this module for your

Cindy Allen, Editor, OSE

classroom use. The copyright on this module, however, does

not cover reproduction of these items for any other use. For

AiGroup Staff

permissions and other rights under this copyright, please contact

Peter Charczenko, President

BSCS, 5415 Mark Dabling Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80918-

Judd Exley, Associate Web Designer/Developer

3842, www.bscs.org, info@bscs.org, 719-531-5550.

Anuradha Parthasarathy, Web Programmer/Developer

Matt Esposito, Web Programmer/Developer

NIH Publication No. 05-5564

SAIC Staff

ISBN: 1-929614-20-9

Bach Nguyen, Project Manager

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Mary Jo Mallonee, Web Developer/Editor

Advisory Committee

Sally Greer, Whitford Middle School, Beaverton, Oregon

Please contact the NIH Office of Science

Vassily Hatzimanikatis, Northwestern University,

Evanston, Illinois

Education with questions about this

Mary Lee S. Ledbetter, College of the Holy Cross,

supplement at supplements@science.

Worcester, Massachusetts

Scott Molley, John Baker Middle School, Damascus, Maryland

education.nih.gov.

Nancy P. Moreno, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

Contents

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v About the National Institutes of Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii About the National Institute of General Medical Sciences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .ix Introduction to Doing Science: The Process of Scientific Inquiry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

• What Are the Objectives of the Module?

• Why Teach the Module?

• What’s in It for the Teacher?

Implementing the Module . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

• What Are the Goals of the Module?

• What Are the Science Concepts and How Are They Connected?

• How Does the Module Correlate with the National Science Education Standards?

– Content Standards: Grades 5–8

– Teaching Standards

– Assessment Standards

• How Does the 5E Instructional Model Promote Active, Collaborative, Inquiry-Based Learning?

– Engage

– Explore

– Explain

– Elaborate

– Evaluate

• How Does the Module Support Ongoing Assessment?

• How Can Teachers Promote Safety in the Science Classroom?

• How Can Controversial Topics Be Handled in the Classroom?

Using the Student Lessons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

• Format of the Lessons

• Timeline for the Module

Using the Web Site. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

• Hardware and Software Requirements

• Making the Most of the Web Site

• Collaborative

Groups

• Web Activities for Students with Disabilities

Information about the Process of Scientific Inquiry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

1 Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

2 Inquiry as a Topic for the Middle School Science Curriculum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

3 Inquiry and Educational Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

4 Inquiry in the National Science Education Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

5 Misconceptions about Inquiry-Based Instruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

6 Important Elements of Scientific Inquiry for this Module . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

6.1 The Nature of Scientifi c Inquiry: Science as a Way of Knowing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

6.2 Scientifi cally Testable Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

6.3 Scientifi c Evidence and Explanations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

7 Teaching Scientific Inquiry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

7.1 Posing Questions in the Inquiry Classroom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

8 An Example of Scientific Inquiry: Epidemiology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Student Lessons

• Lesson

1— Inquiring Minds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

• Lesson

2— Working with Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

• Lesson

3— Conducting a Scientific Investigation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

• Lesson

4— Pulling It All Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

Masters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

Foreword

This curriculum supplement, from The NIH

students develop problem-solving strategies and

Curriculum Supplement Series, brings cutting-edge

critical-thinking skills.

medical science and basic research discoveries

from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Each curriculum supplement comes with a

into classrooms. As the largest medical

complete set of materials for both teachers and

research institution in the United States, NIH

students, including printed materials, extensive

plays a vital role in the health of all Americans

background and resource information, and

and seeks to foster interest in research,

a Web site with interactive activities. These

science, and medicine-related careers for

supplements are distributed at no cost to

future generations. The NIH Office of Science

teachers across the United States. All materials

Education (OSE) is dedicated to promoting

may be copied for classroom use, but may not

science education and scientific literacy.

be sold. We welcome feedback from our users.

For a complete list of curriculum supplements,

We designed this curriculum supplement to

updates, and availability and ordering

complement existing life science curricula

information, or to submit feedback, please visit

at both the state and local levels and to be

our Web site at http://science.education.nih.gov or

consistent with the National Science Education

write to

Standards. 1 The supplement was developed and

Curriculum Supplement Series

tested by a team composed of teachers from

Office of Science Education

across the country; scientists; medical experts;

National Institutes of Health

other professionals with relevant subject-area

6705 Rockledge Dr., Suite 700 MSC 7984

expertise from institutes and medical schools

Bethesda, MD 20817-1814

across the country; representatives from the

NIH National Institute of General Medical

We appreciate the valuable contributions of the

Sciences (NIGMS); and curriculum-design

talented staff at BSCS, AiGroup, and SAIC. We

experts from Biological Sciences Curriculum

are also grateful to the NIH scientists, advisers,

Study (BSCS), AiGroup, and SAIC. The authors

and all other participating professionals for

incorporated real scientific data and actual case

their work and dedication. Finally, we thank

studies into classroom activities. A two-year

the teachers and students who participated in

development process included geographically

focus groups and field tests to ensure that these

dispersed field tests by teachers and students.

supplements are both engaging and effective. I

hope you find our series a valuable addition to

The structure of this module enables teachers

your classroom, and I wish you a productive

to effectively facilitate learning and stimulate

school year.

student interest by applying scientific concepts

to real-life scenarios. Design elements include a

Bruce A. Fuchs, Ph.D.

conceptual flow of lessons based on BSCS’s 5E

Director

Instructional Model of Learning, multisubject

Office of Science Education

integration that emphasizes cutting-edge

National Institutes of Health

science content, and built-in assessment tools.

supplements@science.education.nih.gov

Activities promote active and collaborative

learning and are inquiry-based, to help

________________________

1 In 1996, the National Academy of Sciences published the National Science Education Standards, which outlines what all citizens should understand about science by the time they graduate from high school. The Standards encourages teachers to select major science concepts that empower students to use information to solve problems rather than stressing memorization of unrelated information.

v

About the National Institutes of Health

Begun as the one-room Laboratory of Hygiene

• understanding of mental, addictive, and

in 1887, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

physical disorders; and

today is one of the world’s foremost medical

• collection, dissemination, and exchange

research centers and the federal focal point for

of information in medicine and health,

health research in the United States.

including the development and support

of medical libraries and the training

Mission and Goals

of medical librarians and other health

The NIH mission is science in pursuit of

information specialists.

fundamental knowledge about the nature and

behavior of living systems and the application

Organization

of that knowledge to extend healthy life and

Composed of 27 separate institutes and

reduce the burdens of illness and disability.

centers, NIH is one of eight health agencies

The goals of the agency are to

of the Public Health Service within the U.S.

• foster fundamental creative discoveries,

Department of Health and Human Services.

innovative research strategies, and their

NIH encompasses 75 buildings on more than

applications as a basis for advancing

300 acres in Bethesda, Md., as well as facilities

significantly the nation’s capacity to protect

at several other sites in the United States. The

and improve health;

NIH budget has grown from about $300 in

• develop, maintain, and renew scientific

1887 to more than $28 billion in 2005.

resources — both human and physical —

that will ensure the nation’s ability to

Research Programs

prevent disease;

One of NIH’s principal concerns is to invest

• expand the knowledge base in medical and

wisely the tax dollars entrusted to it for

associated sciences in order to enhance the

the support and conduct of this research.

nation’s economic well-being and ensure

Approximately 82 percent of the investment is

a continued high return on the public

made through grants and contracts supporting

investment in research; and

research and training in more than 2,000

• exemplify and promote the highest level of

research institutions throughout the United

scientific integrity, public accountability,

States and abroad. In fact, NIH grantees are

and social responsibility in the conduct

located in every state in the country. These

of science.

grants and contracts make up the NIH

Extramural Research Program.

NIH works toward meeting those goals by

providing leadership, direction, and grant

Approximately 10 percent of the budget goes to

support to programs designed to improve the

NIH’s Intramural Research Programs, the more

health of the nation through research in the

than 2,000 projects conducted mainly in its

• causes, diagnosis, prevention, and cure

own laboratories. These projects are central to

of human diseases;

the NIH scientific effort. First-rate intramural

• processes of human growth and

scientists collaborate with one another

development;

regardless of institute affiliation or scientific

• biological effects of environmental

discipline and have the intellectual freedom

contaminants;

to pursue their research leads in NIH’s own

vii

laboratories. These explorations range from

Impact on the Nation’s Health

basic biology to behavioral research, to studies

Through its research, NIH has played a major

on treatment of major diseases.

role in making possible many achievements

over the past few decades, including these:

Grant-Making Process

• Mortality from heart disease, the number

The grant-making process begins with an

one killer in the United States, dropped by

idea that an individual scientist describes in

36 percent between 1977 and 1999.

a written application for a research grant. The

• Improved treatments and detection methods

project might be small, or it might involve

increased the relative five-year survival rate

millions of dollars. The project might become

for people with cancer to 60 percent.

useful immediately as a diagnostic test or new

• With effective medications and

treatment, or it might involve studies of basic

psychotherapy, the 19 million Americans

biological processes whose clinical value may

who suffer from depression can now look

not be apparent for many years.

forward to a better, more productive future.

• Vaccines are now available that protect

Each research grant application undergoes peer

against infectious diseases that once killed

review. A panel of scientific experts, primarily

and disabled millions of children and

from outside the government, who are active

adults.

and productive researchers in the biomedical

• In 1990, NIH researchers performed the

sciences, first evaluates the scientific merit

first trial of gene therapy in humans.

of the application. Then, a national advisory

Scientists are increasingly able to locate,

council or board, composed of eminent

identify, and describe the functions of

scientists as well as members of the public who

many of the genes in the human genome.

are interested in health issues or the biomedical

The ultimate goal is to develop screening

sciences, determines the project’s overall merit

tools and gene therapies for the general

and priority in advancing the research agenda

population for cancer and many other

of the particular NIH funding institutes.

diseases.

About 38,500 research and training applica-

Science Education

tions are reviewed annually through the NIH

Science education by NIH and its institutes

peer-review system. At any given time, NIH

contributes to ensuring the continued

supports 35,000 grants in universities,

supply of well-trained basic research and

medical schools, and other research and

clinical investigators, as well as the myriad

research training institutions, both nationally

professionals in the many allied disciplines who

and internationally.

support the research enterprise. These efforts

also help educate people about scientific results

NIH Nobelists

so that they can make informed decisions about

The roster of people who have conducted NIH

their own—and the public’s—health.

research or who have received NIH support

over the years includes some of the world’s

This curriculum supplement is one such science

most illustrious scientists and physicians.

education effort, a collaboration among three

Among them are 115 winners of Nobel Prizes

partners: the NIH National Institute of General

for achievements as diverse as deciphering

Medical Sciences, the NIH Office of Science

the genetic code and identifying the causes of

Education, and Biological Sciences Curriculum

hepatitis. You can learn more about Nobelists

Study.

who have received NIH support at http://www.

nih.gov/about/almanac/nobel/index.htm.

For more about NIH, visit http://www.nih.gov.

viii

About the National Institute of

General Medical Sciences

Many scientists across the country are

answers to questions in other, seemingly

united by one chief desire: to improve our

unrelated, areas. The anticancer drug cisplatin

understanding of how life works. Whether

unexpectedly grew out of studies on the effect

they gaze at or grind up, create or calculate,

of electrical fields on bacteria. Freeze-drying

model or manipulate, if their work sheds light

was developed originally by researchers as

on living systems, it may well receive financial

a way to concentrate and preserve biological

support from the National Institute of General

samples. And a laboratory technique called the

Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which funds the

polymerase chain reaction became the basis of

research of more than 3,000 scientists at

“DNA fingerprinting” techniques

universities, medical schools, hospitals, and

that have revolutionized criminal forensics.

other research institutions.

Similarly, it is impossible to predict the

NIGMS is part of the National Institutes of

eventual impact and applications of the basic

Health (NIH), an agency of the U.S. gove