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Inquiry, Nature of Science, and PBL...Oh My!

Inquiry, Nature of Science, and PBL...Oh My!

Allison Watson Beck, a VISTA alumni, started a blog when she attended our Elementary Science Institute in the summer of 2011 (our next annual Elementary Science Institute is coming up this June). Read on to find out more about her first day adventures!


Today was absolutely full of awesome science stuff from the get-go! There was no time to waste! We started our first day here at the Elementary Science Institute (here on out referred to as science camp) by taking a survey. I must say that I felt less than, well, educated at the conclusion of it. I faced questions like "define the nature of science." Huh?

My anxiety soon faded as we jumped head-first into problem solving. We were given the following scenario: Hurricane Arlene has hit the Chesapeake Bay region and an oil tanker was caught in the storm. Oil is everywhere! How is this oil spill affecting the ecosystem and what can we do about it?

We discovered that one of the animals hit hardest by oil spills are birds, particularly ducks. We were able to design an investigation to make new discoveries about the feathers of a duck, the properties of oil, and cleaning agents. How could our discoveries lend themselves to the cleanup effort? We researched, hypothesized, formulated procedures, tested, and concluded. We had crash landed into the world of Problem-Based Learning (PBL). And all of this before lunch!

After lunch we were given the task of creating a problem and scenario having to do with measuring the human impact on ecosystems. Amazing discussion and ideas filled the room! But...what fun would it be to tell everything on day one? Until tomorrow... :)

Find out what great science discoveries and adventures at the Elementary Science Institute befell Allison in her blog Summer Science Chronicles. And keep following our blog for more stories about the upcoming Elementary Science Institute this summer. 

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