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Adding Creativity to Science Inquiry

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Keywords: Flip Video, Metacognition, Creativity, Science Inquiry
Subject(s): Health and PE, Video, Social Skills, Technology, Autism, Early Learning, Dyslexia, Podcasting, Life Science, Special Needs, Animation, Earth Science, Calculus, Information Skills, Biology, Home Economics, Business, Social Studies, Service Learning, Geometry, Science, Drama, Civics, Math, Speech and Language, Foreign Language, Chemistry, Physics, Trigonometry, History
Grades 6 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Hazelwood West Jr High School, Hazelwood, MO
Planned By: Christopher Link
Original Author: Christopher Link, Hazelwood
1. Enhance students’ 21st Century Skills by:
a. Promoting science as true inquiry
b. Enhancing student questioning skills and quality of questions
c. Increasing student depth of knowledge
d. Teaching investigative skills
e. Adding own research into a learning community
2. Encourage students to think about science metacognitively
3. Inspire students to be sources of knowledge, not just gainers of knowledge
4. Students create an artifact of learning that is great for parent/teacher conferences

Lesson Philosophy:
This is a highly versatile lesson that can be used in nearly all subject areas. This lesson has been drafted for a science class, however a creative teacher could use it in any subject.

Using the technique of open scientific inquiry promotes questioning and investigative skills in middle school students. In this activity, students perform an open inquiry and then create flip videos about what they investigated and the questions that they came up with. In creating the videos, students must reflect on their investigation metacognitively. That is, they must begin to think about WHY they asked the questions that they asked and HOW they came to conclusions. There has been much research that supports the theory that metacognitive thinking in students promotes life-long learning. Creating videos about scientific investigations allows students to have fun while thinking metacognitively because it brings right-brained (creative) thinking to an otherwise left-brained (analytical) subject.

The activity of creating videos to enhance metacognitive thinking is best suited after an inquiry of some sort is performed in class. For example, I use an open inquiry format when introducing Friction to my 7th grade science class and then had students make videos based on their investigations. The creation of videos took roughly five, eighty minute class periods.

I posted the question, “What can be done to increase friction?” along side of a picture of a polar bear that had fallen flat on its back. The bear was next to a street sign that read, “Caution, Ice”. Discussing nothing with my students, I gave each group a set of materials (1 wooden block with a hook in it, wax paper, coarse sand paper, fine sand paper, 5 large washers, and 1 Newton Scale) and told them to investigate friction on the block. Each group came up with different questions to test and different variables to manipulate (some wondered about surface type, some wondered about surface area of the block and some wondered if the weight of the block changed friction). We started using scientific language like independent variable and dependent variable. This was the fastest I’d ever gotten a class to understand the difference between IV and DV and word a hypothesis and a testable question properly.

After a day of inquiry about friction we began planning videos. I taught my students some ways to get videos started (http://www.untamedscience.com/film/Getting+Started) and allowed their imagination to carry their videos. The instructions for their video were simple: 1) it must illustrate some way of changing friction, 2) It must be less than 3 minutes long, 3) It must include all of the steps of a scientific inquiry, 4) It must be YouTube safe – I defined “YouTube Safe” as no identifying features like full names, school names, addresses, etc., 5) It must be school appropriate. The Untamed Science is a huge help because you can use their procedure for creating videos: pre production, production and post production. It walks you from step to step.

Advanced Preparation:
• Make sure that the computers at your school can access the video examples from the Untamed Science website
• It is a good idea to be familiar with the steps of the Untamed Science website so that you can avoid some of the steps (For example: I skipped the “Funding your video” section on the Pre-Production aspect from Untamed Science)
• Make sure that you have some type of video editing software on your computers at school
o Windows Movie Maker free and works well
o Sony Vegas is very good but can be expensive
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This lesson could enhance student learning in all subject areas.
Materials: Mobile Labs, Video Cameras, Flip Video, Tripods, Batteries, Computer Accessories, Middle, High, Social Studies, ESL, Podcasting, Video Tools, Autism, Cause and Effect, Early Learning, Dyslexia, Speech and Language, Hardware Devices