Inq-ITS is best used when the activities are integrated into a middle school science curriculum; they do a good job of highlighting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). By using these activities throughout the year, students will see that NGSS Cross-Cutting Concepts (such as cause and effect) and Science and Engineering Practices (such as analyzing data) occur in all the scientific disciplines. Additionally, teachers and students can watch these skills grow as the school year progresses.Continue reading Show less
Inq-ITS is a collection of virtual labs for middle schoolers, including topics such as Plate Tectonics, Natural Selection, Forces & Motion, and Phase Changes. Students learn this content through virtual simulations that allow them to design and conduct their own investigations. The virtual labs are broken into four sections described as the Phases of Inquiry: Hypothesis, Collect Data, Analyze Data, and Explain Findings.
Each virtual lab begins with a scenario and a question such as "Why does a population of Slinquettes have different fur colors?" There are multiple variables that students can manipulate, including mutations, temperature, and amount of foliage, for example. Kids make selections to build a hypothesis; support is embedded if students don't include an independent and dependent variable in their hypothesis or if their hypothesis doesn't answer their question. Students use the simulation to run trials and gather evidence. This is followed by an analysis section, where kids make a claim about whether their observations support their hypothesis and select the trials that support their claim. The virtual lab culminates with an online Claim-Evidence-Reasoning form that helps students construct an explanation of the phenomena.
Inq-ITS truly embodies the three-dimensional nature of the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices; students discover the science content while engaging in inquiry. Emphasized throughout are opportunities for students to create explanations and modify those explanations in light of new evidence. For example, many students think that adding more green leaves will lead to the presence of Slinquettes with green fur. Inq-ITS has a structure that encourages kids to experiment more and discover that the new green trait only shows up in the presence of a mutation. Piece by piece kids are coached through the the Practices: designing investigations, using evidence to make claims, and backing up those claims with evidence and reasoning.
Similar to products such as ExploreLearning Gizmos, Inq-ITS helps teachers track student progress through reports. Inq-ITS reports focus on inquiry practices such as hypothesis formulation, investigation design, and data analysis. Inq-ITS has also taken reporting a step further with real-time alerts. Notes such as "Jill is changing too many variables at once" pop up while students are working. This helps teachers quickly identify who needs one-on-one support.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.
Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways parts of cells contribute to the function.
Matter and Its Interactions
Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.