Inquiry project

Secondary School Science Teaching Method

Adam Johnston & Sharon Ohlhorst

DUE: Thursday, September 23rd

The thrust of this assignment is to do some of your own research and report on it – this is just the kind of thing that you should be having your own students doing at some point in time, so you should probably do it yourself.  (Strangely, even science majors rarely have the chance to really to “science research.”  What is wrong with that picture?)

Your research project should be something that you pursue on your own – very much like a “science fair” type of project.  In fact, you will present your work in a poster presentation in class, much like what is done at science fairs.  (However, what many students do for a science fair poster is very glitzy and cosmetic.  You will not be expected to make your presentation frilly or fancy, just presentable AND clearly understandable.)

It is important to note that this research will be your own. That means that you will:

1.      Propose a question that asks "How?" or "Why?"

2.      Collect your own data (e.g., times, lengths, masses, colors, etc.) pertaining to the natural phenomenon you’re considering.

3.      Explain what you did and what it all means.  This includes an analysis and explanation of your data.

This project is not any of the following:

1.      A report on research that has already been done, although you are free to refer to such if you desire.

2.      An essay describing some physics/chemistry/geology/biology/etc, although this might also be incorporated into your research.

3.      A description of a demonstration/application and how it works.

The best advice you could be given would be to keep it simple, yet original.  Hold yourself to the same standards that you would hold your own students to.

This project will not require a written report – only the poster presentation.  On the presentation day, you will be expected to give a brief (10 minute) explanation of your project, and then members of the class will be able to peruse all poster presentations. 

Have fun with this!  This project should model what science is all about.  On the reverse of this page is the rubric with which your project will be assessed.


Inquiry Project Rubric

Use the following rubric to guide your research, what you will present, and how you will present it.  All values in parentheses represent points that can total to as many as 100 points.







good visuals, everyone engaged, all parts clearly discussed


lacked good visuals or only not all parts of project discussed


missing two or more of required elements




clear and matches the question (30-35)

not clear or doesn't match question or no replicates or missed obvious control of variables (20-29)

missed more than one


Analysis/discussion of data


Appropriate presentation of data, honest evaluation of data quality, conclusion follows from data (22-30)

missing some elements (16-21)

Missing many elements (0-15)

What would you do differently if you were to repeat the experiment and what new questions does this suggest to you?


good reflection (8-10)

poor reflection (5)

didn't complete (0)



new to me (5)

good idea, somewhat unique (3-5)

commonly done (0-2)