Inquiry Cards

Looking for ideas to implement inquiry-based strategies in your classroom?

Most times, teachers don't require full-fledged lesson plans. We have created these "Inquiry Cards" as idea prompters that you can modify for your own purposes. Each Card fits on one piece of standard-sized paper which is folded to create a 'card' Each inquiry activity is categorized by Inquiry Level and Grade Level.
Gradual Release of Responsibility
Inquiry Level Question Method Analysis Details
Confirmation T T T

Activities that verify already known results; useful for learning techniques e.g. how to use a microscope or pipetting

Structured T T S

Activities where students learn to analyze and communicate their results independently. e.g. what patterns did you find when you followed my procedure and examined how the length of the pendulum affects its swing time?

Guided T S S

Activities where students are given a challenge by the teacher and students are expected to develop procedure, analyze and communicate the findings independently. e.g. Investigate what affects enzyme activity.

Open S S S

Activities spurred by independently generated student-questions based on the current unit being studied.

  • T = Teacher
  • S = Student
Developing skills for doing inquiry happens gradually and must be scaffolded by the teacher. Students become independent learners by learning the skills necessary to develop their own questions, implement a well-designed investigation, make sense of the results and defend their findings. In the table, Confirmation means that the teacher provides all of the information necessary for each stage of the investigation process. Student gradually learn, over time, analytical skills, then organizational skills and how to formulate good 'testable' questions. The process may take an entire year or one semester. Every teacher's goal, at every grade level, is to finish the year at Open.
Inquiry Cards
Grade Level Title Description
All C,S,G,O Generating Questions This question matrix provides a variety of Question Stems that can be used by students to develop questions for inquiry.
All S,G Energy Ball A great way to introduce electricity, this mysterious ball lights up and warbles when a human circle completes the circuit.
All S Fortune Fish A classic kid's novelty toy prompts inquiries into what happens when the magic fortune fish is placed on your hand.
All C Observing and Inferring Using a high resolution photograph of the International Space Station provided by NASA, students learn the importance of good observation skills to be able to make inferences.
All S,G Footprint Puzzle Have your students tell the story of this footprint puzzle, then have them create their own! A great way to combine literacy skills and science process skills.
4-9 G Black Box A classic black box exercise to demonstrate observation and inferences.
1-4 S Stack 'Em High How high can you build a colored pyramid of cups?
4-9 G Instant Snow A small amount of white powder turns into a large mound of white 'instant' snow. A great way to introduce students to variables.
5-9 C,S Reaction Timer A Smarter Science bookmark becomes the basis for testing a variety of student generated variables
5 - 9 S,G Rice Rabbits Using a box of rice, students act as predators and catch Rabbits (coloured sprinkles) in a variant on the classic predator/prey cycles exercise
5 - 9 S,G Pennies on the Bridge A simple piece of cardboard challenges students to build the strongest bridge possible.
6-9 S,G Save the Grape One poor, vulnerable grape! Construct a shelter to protect the grape from the Grape Smasher!
All G,O UV Beads These innocent looking white beads carry a special secret. Have your students discover the secret and then use it to investigate the power of the sun.
7-12 S,G Blue Frog Using just a photograph, an unusual frog becomes the starting point for investigations into a variety of things e.g. environment, genetics, biodiversity
Inquiry Card Template Download this Inquiry Card template in Word format to create your own inquiry card.
Inquiry Card Template.rtf Download this Inquiry Card template in RTF format to create your own inquiry card.