Inquiry-Based Learning Educator Toolkit

Education Services / L’équipe des services d’éducation
4 October 2015

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The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge is designed to inspire public school students across Canada in grades 6 – 12 to explore issues they’re interested in and engage them in ways to improve their local community by using Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). As part of the challenge, participating schools identify real-world problems or issues that are important to their school communities, propose STEM-based solutions to those issues or problems, and follow through on implementing the proposed solutions. The Solve for Tomorrow Challenge supports you, as an educator, in making STEM learning interesting and relevant for your students to help them prepare for living and working in an increasingly digital age.

The value of engaging students in a project of this type is evident. The problem-solving, research, analytical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills your students will cultivate through this project are the kinds of skills they’ll need to meet future employers’ needs and expectations. They’ll also use these skills to function as a citizen in today’s fast-paced world with its multiple and complex issues and problems. These skills, often referred to as 21st-century skills, are the type that students learn best by doing. As a long-time supporter and promoter of the importance of STEM engagement, Let’s Talk Science is pleased to partner with Samsung Canada on this initiative because, together, we recognize that STEM learning is an outstanding platform upon which to build these skills as well as an important preparation for future study and career opportunities.

Let’s Talk Science’s role in Solve for Tomorrow is to validate the STEM and curriculum connections inherent in this challenge. An award-winning national, charitable organization with more than 20 years of experience, Let’s Talk Science helps children and youth fulfill their potential and prepare for their future careers and roles as citizens in a rapidly changing world. We do this by offering programs, services, and resources that help youth develop positive attitudes, critical skills, and career awareness, and by connecting the STEM and education communities to support youth development and strengthen learning.

To support your involvement, Let’s Talk Science has developed this Educator Toolkit, which is intended to provide educators with a general road map for developing and implementing a successful STEM-based project for the Solve for Tomorrow Challenge as part of your teaching practice.

While there are a variety of approaches educators can use to address the real-world problem their students will examine, this toolkit uses a combination of project-based, problem-based, and inquiry-based learning approaches to provide structure and guidance.

The following are the common aspects of these learning approaches, which underpin this toolkit:

  • Having students engage in authentic, open-ended, real-world activities;
  • Using instructional strategies that are student centred with the teacher as facilitator or coach;
  • Requiring students to seek out multiple sources of information to help them develop a strong understanding of the issue and identify potential solutions; and
  • Emphasizing authentic, performance-based assessments.

These common characteristics provide opportunities for increased intellectual engagement, deep learning, and concept attainment on the part of students, as well as opportunities to develop the 21st-century skills (the four Cs) of critical thinking and problem solving, communication, creativity and innovation, and collaboration.

The learning approach described in this toolkit works well in technology-rich learning environments. In this toolkit, we’ve included suggestions for ways you and your students can incorporate various technologies to facilitate learning (e.g. search for current information, organize ideas, present and communicate ideas and new learnings to others, or to collect, analyze, and graph data).

Finally, while the learning approach suggested in this toolkit is presented in a linear manner, it is important to recognize that, particularly in the early stages, this is an iterative process, as shown in the graphic below:

Educator Toolkit steps

The cyclical nature of inquiry indicates that information gleaned at later steps of the process may result in new perspectives that may suggest revisions to earlier decisions and serve to help focus on the thinking and actions taken to address the identified problem or issue. A Project Planning template is provided in the appendix for your use as you plan your project idea.

Step 1: Identify and Clarify Your Project Idea

Education Services / L’équipe des services d’éducation

This content is provided through Let's Talk Science's Education Services team.

Ce contenu est fourni par l'équipe des services d'éducation de Parlons sciences.

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