Local News

Teaching Workshop Stresses The Science Of Inquiry

Posted June 27, 2001 1:34 a.m. EDT

— By the end of the school year, most students and teachers cannot wait for summer. Some science teachers are getting back in the classroom for two weeks to learn new teaching techniques.

The teachers are learning why questions, not answers, may play a bigger role in their classrooms.

"Inquiry is wonderful because it means all of us are right because we're all asking questions," says Milly Cason, a teacher at North Chatham School. "We're not necessarily looking for the right answer, but how to be a scientist."

Cason is enrolled in the workshop which teaches a technique called Inquiry Based Learning.

Students in Cason's "class" are volunteers who help the teachers learn hands-on and minds-on discovery methods for teaching science.

"It makes the classroom more fun, more engaging. It allows students of all needs to participate," says workshop instructor Todd Guentensberger.

Some teachers who have already used inquiry methods say it challenges students who prefer learning through reading or listening.

"The students that usually struggle in the textbook or rote memorization really shine," says Jen Powell, a teacher at Wakefield High School.

Powell and other teachers from Durham and surrounding areas learn new activities in a workshop setting, then immediately use them in a classroom.

One activity required students to build a tower from two sheets of paper and 10 inches of tape that would with stand one arm's length breath.

Melissa Hicks and Eliza Allen's tower stood tall, while Travis Mason and Michael Terry want another chance.

"We want them to explore and investigate and see what they can come up with," says Guentensberger.

"They continually help each other. I think it gives them a sense of ownership in their learning," say Powell.

The workshop is sponsored by the Center for Inquiry Based Learning at Duke University.