This is the eighth best practice brief, a concise, but in depth article detailing research based, authentic, and age appropriate experiences for young children. Dr. Gonya outlines the importance of encouraging young children to investigate and explore their world and also discusses some of the challenges for teachers and children as they open the learning environment to inquiry. She also provides a developmental progression for inquiry skills. After reading the brief, educators will find additional helpful information in the many additional resources listed at the close of the article.
Scientific Inquiry for Early Childhood
Doing Scientific Inquiry
Ask questions about objects, organisms and events in their environment during shared stories, conversations and play (e.g., ask about how worms eat).
Show interest in investigating unfamiliar objects, organisms and phenomena during shared stories, conversations and play (e.g., "Where does hail come from?").
Predict what will happen next based on previous experiences (e.g., when a glass falls off the table and hits the tile floor, it most likely will break).
Investigate natural laws acting upon objects, events and organisms (e.g., repeatedly dropping objects to observe the laws of gravity, observing the life cycle of insects).
Use one or more of the senses to observe and learn about objects, organisms and phenomena for a purpose (e.g., to record, classify, compare, talk about).
Explore objects, organisms and events using simple equipment (e.g., magnets and magnifiers, standard and non-standard measuring tools).
Begin to make comparisons between objects or organisms based on their characteristics (e.g., animals with four legs, smooth and rough rocks).
Record or represent and communicate observations and findings through a variety of methods (e.g., pictures, words, graphs, dramatizations) with assistance.
Scientific Ways of Knowing for Early Childhood
Nature of Science
Offer ideas and explanations (through drawings, emergent writing, conversation, movement) of objects, organisms and phenomena, which may be correct or incorrect.
Science and Society
Participate in simple, spontaneous scientific explorations with others (e.g., digging to the bottom of the sandbox, testing materials that sink or float).