News

Inquiry-based science platform lets students conduct investigations

By Laura Devaney
August 10th, 2015

Web-based tool aims to engage students and teachers in science and engineering skill development

science-engineeringVan Andel Education Institute (VAEI) has launched a new scientific inquiry platform, called NexGen Inquiry — which guides students through the scientific method and lets them conduct investigations and journal their progress.

Released in preparation for the 2015-16 school year, NexGen Inquiry includes an interactive teaching and learning platform that supports existing curriculum, integrated teacher professional development, a teacher community and a resource library.

Built by teachers for teachers, NexGen Inquiry is the result of more than a decade of work with students and science educators at the Van Andel Education Institute Science Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a foundational support for the Next Generation Science Standards as well as other state standards.

NexGen Inquiry includes a web-based journal wherein students can complete investigations designed and distributed by their teachers and also plan and conduct their own investigations. The journal incorporates VAEI’s Community of Scientific Practice model and QPOE2 (Question, Prediction, Observation, Explanation and Evaluation), its process of scientific inquiry. As students complete investigations, they have the ability to easily add content in a variety of forms: text, images, data tables, charts and videos, using tools readily available within their own journals.

“The Community of Scientific Practice and QPOE2 opened my eyes to real, hands-on science and has taken my science instruction methods to the next level,” said Jessica O’Donnell, fifth-grade teacher at Spring Lake Intermediate School in Spring Lake, Michigan. “I am excited to incorporate the NexGen Inquiry™ teaching and learning platform with my fifth grade class this year as we increase technology access for our students.”

Teacher professional development resources are built into NexGen Inquiry through self-paced video modules. Video modules have been designed to mirror the progression of VAEI’s highly successful face-to-face trainings with more than 700 local science educators. Advanced levels of professional development modules are planned for release during the 2015-16 school year.

NexGen Inquiry further supports science educators by providing a resource library with full access to instructional scaffolds and posters for use in implementing the Community of Scientific Practice model and QPOE2 its process of scientific inquiry. Teachers interested in asking questions of other practitioners or sharing ideas and best practices with their peers and VAEI staff can participate in just-in-time professional development activities by participating in forum discussions and polls within the NexGen Inquiry Teacher Community.

Visit http://www.nexgeninquiry.org for more information and to begin a FREE, 90 day trial.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Laura Devaney

Laura Ascione Devaney is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura