NOTE: Science Pirates (first released in 2008) is currently being updated for newer operating systems. Watch a video about the game, which was used with middle school students to help them learn about forming and testing science hypotheses.
The content standards call for understanding scientific inquiry and developing the ability to inquire. As in understanding the natural world, understanding and doing inquiry are contingent on knowing concepts, principles,laws, and theories of the physical, life, and earth sciences. Inquiry also requires reasoning capabilities and skills in manipulating laboratory or field equipment.
In the vision presented by the Standards, inquiry is a step beyond “science as a process,” in which students learn skills, such as observation, inference, and experimentation. The new vision includes the “processes of science” and requires that students combine processes and scientific knowledge as they use scientific reasoning and critical thinking to develop their understanding of science.
Engaging students in inquiry helps students develop
Science as inquiry is basic to science education and a controlling principle in the ultimate organization and selection of students’ activities. The standards on inquiry highlight the ability to conduct inquiry and develop understanding about scientific inquiry. Students at all grade levels and in every domain of science should have the opportunity to use scientific inquiry and develop the ability to think and act in ways associated with inquiry, including asking questions, planning and conducting investigations, using appropriate tools and techniques to gather data, thinking critically and logically about relationships between evidence and explanations, constructing and analyzing alternative explanations, and communicating scientific arguments. Table 6.1 shows the standards for inquiry. The science as inquiry standards are described in terms of activities resulting in student development of certain abilities and in terms of student understanding of inquiry.