Reflection on practice: Provoking inquiry into energy

One of my greatest frustrations as an inquiry teacher is the lack of opportunities to observe other inquiry teachers. The incredible amount of preparation results in having a limited amount of free time.

When I noticed the Grade Five team at KIST next door preparing centers including light bulbs, various balls, balloons, thermometers, and more, and during my preparation period, I couldn’t miss the chance to observe and document.

The first center I visited appeared to be engaging with the relationship between heat and light. I was immediately impressed with the thoughtfulness of the questions used by the facilitator to stimulate students’ analyses.


I didn’t have much opportunity to glean the full purpose of one center which involved a beaker and thermometer, but students were highly intrigued as they shared ideas from their observations.



There was also an ingenious application of the impossible dominoes phenomenon. The thought occurred to me, however, that this demonstration is worthy of investing in a purpose built set of progressively larger dominoes.


Two more centers are not pictured in this post. One involved comparing how different balls bounce, and how they bounce differently when released on top of each other. This would have been a fantastic exploration to allow students to carry out, but would need to be outside due to the risk of errant balls. The final center was the classic balloon/straw jet on a string.

What appealed the most about this experience to me was it’s cohesion. The graphic organizer provided served to connect the various engagements through a cognitive framework. It was an ideal design that I look forward to adapting to future units of inquiry in my class.

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Published by

Bart Miller

Father, Teacher, Composer, Philosopher

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