Investigations, or inquiry, is an active form of learning that places emphasis on questioning, data analysis, and critical thinking. However, students often need substantial scaffolding before they are ready to develop their own scientific questions and design their own data collecting methods, resulting in multiple levels of inquiry.

According to Bell, Smetana, and Binns (2005), Inquiry has 5 components

__What is an investigation?__Investigations, or inquiry, is an active form of learning that places emphasis on questioning, data analysis, and critical thinking. However, students often need substantial scaffolding before they are ready to develop their own scientific questions and design their own data collecting methods, resulting in multiple levels of inquiry.

According to Bell, Smetana, and Binns (2005), Inquiry has 5 components

**Learner engages in scientifically or mathematically oriented questions****Learner gives priority to evidence in responding to questions (collects/analyzes data)****Learner formulates explanations from evidence****Learner connects explanations to scientific knowledge****Learner communicates and justifies explanations**

**Below is a figure from Rezba, Auldridge, and Rhea (1999) (image obtained from Bell, Smetana, and Binns 2005) that goes over the different levels of inquiry.**

Level 1, or confirmation, is teacher directed. The teacher provides the question, method, and explanation for the observed phenomenon.

Level 1, or confirmation, is teacher directed. The teacher provides the question, method, and explanation for the observed phenomenon.

**Level 2, or structured, is still primarily teacher directed. The teacher provides the question and method, but the students come up with an explanation.**

**Level 3, or guided, is more student directed. Although the teacher provides the question, the students come up with the method of answering the question as well as the explanation for the phenomenon.**

**Level 4, or open, is student directed. Students choose the question they want to explore, the method they use, and the explanation of their results.**

__Investigations__**Investigation 1**

**Overview of the investigation**

Goal: Introduce students to closed and open circuits.

Activity: The students will try different configurations of wires, lightbulb, and battery in order to get the lightbulb to light up. Students will draw the configurations used as well as note if the lightbulb lit up. Then the students work together to come up with an explanation as to why some configurations lit up and others did not. Groups will then present their findings to the whole class and a list will be compiled.

Level of Inquiry: 3 Guided – The teacher introduces the question and the materials but the student comes up with the method and explanation.

**Objectives**

Students will be able to:

- Conduct scientific investigations (TEKS Physics 1A)
- Explain the difference between a closed and open circuit (TEKS Physics 5F)

**Alignment with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)**

This investigation addresses the following TEKS:

- Science (Physics)
- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- (1) Scientific processes. The student conducts investigations, for at least 40% of instructional time, using safe, environmentally appropriate, and ethical practices. These investigations must involve actively obtaining and analyzing data with physical equipment, but may also involve experimentation in a simulated environment as well as field observations that extend beyond the classroom. The student is expected to:
- (A) demonstrate safe practices during laboratory and field investigations; and

- (5) Science concepts. The student knows the nature of forces in the physical world. The student is expected to:
- (F)
**design**, construct, and calculate in terms of current through, potential difference across, resistance of, and power used by electric circuit elements connected in both series and parallel combinations;

- (F)

- (1) Scientific processes. The student conducts investigations, for at least 40% of instructional time, using safe, environmentally appropriate, and ethical practices. These investigations must involve actively obtaining and analyzing data with physical equipment, but may also involve experimentation in a simulated environment as well as field observations that extend beyond the classroom. The student is expected to:

- (c) Knowledge and skills.

**Investigation 2**

**Overview of the investigation**

Goal: The students will get practice using a multi-meter to measure current, voltage, and resistance. They will then find a relationship between the three (equation).

Activity: The students will be in groups. They will use a multi-meter to measure current, voltage, and resistance. Then, similar to the pendulum example, the students will derive the relationship between the three values.

Level of Inquiry: 2 Structured – The method and question is given by the teacher. The teacher gives each group of students the same circuit set-up (optional: different circuit set ups, 2 groups per set up).

**Objectives**

Students will be able to:

- Use a multi-meter to measure current, voltage, and resistance (TEKS Physics 1A, 2F, 2H, 5F)
- Calculate theoretical voltage, resistance, and current and explain why measured values do not match exactly (TEKS Physics 2H, 5F)
- Analyze current, voltage, resistance data and use regression to write an appropriate function (derive V = IR Ohm’s Law) (TEKS Physics 2J)

**Alignment with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)**

This investigation addresses the following TEKS:

- Science (Physics)
- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- (1) Scientific processes. The student conducts investigations, for at least 40% of instructional time, using safe, environmentally appropriate, and ethical practices. These investigations must involve actively obtaining and analyzing data with physical equipment, but may also involve experimentation in a simulated environment as well as field observations that extend beyond the classroom. The student is expected to:
- (A) demonstrate safe practices during laboratory and field investigations; and

- (5) Science concepts. The student knows the nature of forces in the physical world. The student is expected to:
- (F)
**design**, construct, and calculate in terms of current through, potential difference across, resistance of, and power used by electric circuit elements connected in both series and parallel combinations;

- (F)
- (2) Scientific processes. The student uses a systematic approach to answer scientific laboratory and field investigative questions. The student is expected to:
- (F) demonstrate the use of course apparatus, equipment, techniques, and procedures, including
**multimeters (current, voltage, resistance),**power supply, stop watches, mini lamps (bulbs) and sockets, electrostatics kits, - (H) make measurements with accuracy and precision and record data using scientific notation and International System (SI) units
- (J) organize and evaluate data and make inferences from data, including the use of tables, charts, and graphs;

- (F) demonstrate the use of course apparatus, equipment, techniques, and procedures, including

- (1) Scientific processes. The student conducts investigations, for at least 40% of instructional time, using safe, environmentally appropriate, and ethical practices. These investigations must involve actively obtaining and analyzing data with physical equipment, but may also involve experimentation in a simulated environment as well as field observations that extend beyond the classroom. The student is expected to:

- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- Math (Algebra II)
- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- (8) Data. The student applies mathematical processes to analyze data, select appropriate models, write corresponding functions, and make predictions. The student is expected to:
- (A) analyze data to select the appropriate model from among linear, quadratic, and exponential models;
- (B) use regression methods available through technology to write a linear function, a quadratic function, and an exponential function from a given set of data; and
- (C) predict and make decisions and critical judgments from a given set of data using linear, quadratic, and exponential models.

- (8) Data. The student applies mathematical processes to analyze data, select appropriate models, write corresponding functions, and make predictions. The student is expected to:

- (c) Knowledge and skills.

**What are Benchmark Lessons?****According to Dial, Riddley, Williams, and Sampson (2007), benchmark lessons are a great way to introduce and review content. They are used to introduce new ideas or techniques that students can not learn through an investigation. Benchmark lessons can also be used to review important ideas or techniques.**

**Benchmark Lessons****Benchmark Lesson 1**

**Overview of the lesson**

Goal: Students will learn how to use a multi-meter to measure voltage, resistance, and current.

Activity: Students will be given a circuit configuration to build (practice previous day’s work). Then the teacher will introduce the concepts of voltage, resistance, and current. Based on these fundamentals, the teacher will then ask the students how they think each measurement would be measured. Students will discuss in groups, then discuss as a class. The teacher will try each method using the multi-meter and see if the proposed solutions work. After the correct way to measure has been identified (and students come up with an explanation), the students will then measure their own circuits.

**Objectives**

Students will be able to:

- Use a multi-meter to measure current, voltage, and resistance (TEKS Physics 1A, 5F)

**Alignment with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)**

This lesson addresses the following TEKS:

- Science (Physics)
- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- (1) Scientific processes. The student conducts investigations, for at least 40% of instructional time, using safe, environmentally appropriate, and ethical practices. These investigations must involve actively obtaining and analyzing data with physical equipment, but may also involve experimentation in a simulated environment as well as field observations that extend beyond the classroom. The student is expected to:
- (A) demonstrate safe practices during laboratory and field investigations; and

- (5) Science concepts. The student knows the nature of forces in the physical world. The student is expected to:
- (F) design, construct, and calculate in terms of current through, potential difference across, resistance of, and power used by electric circuit elements connected in both series and parallel combinations;

- (1) Scientific processes. The student conducts investigations, for at least 40% of instructional time, using safe, environmentally appropriate, and ethical practices. These investigations must involve actively obtaining and analyzing data with physical equipment, but may also involve experimentation in a simulated environment as well as field observations that extend beyond the classroom. The student is expected to:

- (c) Knowledge and skills.

**Benchmark Lesson 2**

**Overview of the lesson**

Goal: Discover what intensity of lightbulb depends on. Possibly introduce optional slider/dimmer for lights.

Activity: Poll the students first. Ask the students why some lightbulbs are brighter than others and have a quick poll the students can do. Then when students have submitted their answers, ask for a representative who picked each choice to explain why they chose that answer (don’t ask them to raise their hands or else people who picked a less popular answer may be intimidated!). Then, using a circuit, change what the student suggested and see if it impacted the intensity of the light bulb (brightness).

**Objectives**

Students will be able to:

- Explain the relationship between current and intensity (TEKS Physics 2E, 2L || ELA 20A, 20B, 21A, 21B, 22A)
- (Optional) Implement a dimmer for their lights in their model
- Based on own time – independent research + some teacher feedback
- Wow - factor

- (Optional) Implement a dimmer for their lights in their model

**Alignment with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)**

This lesson addresses the following TEKS:

- Science (Physics)
- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- (2) Scientific processes. The student uses a systematic approach to answer scientific laboratory and field investigative questions. The student is expected to:
- (E) design and implement investigative procedures, including making observations, asking well-defined questions, formulating testable hypotheses, identifying variables, selecting appropriate equipment and technology, and evaluating numerical answers for reasonableness;
- (L) express and manipulate relationships among physical variables quantitatively, including the use of graphs, charts, and equations.

- (2) Scientific processes. The student uses a systematic approach to answer scientific laboratory and field investigative questions. The student is expected to:

- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- (Optional) Language Arts (English III)
- (b) Knowledge and skills.
- (20) Research/Research Plan. Students ask open-ended research questions and develop a plan for answering them. Students are expected to:
- (A) brainstorm, consult with others, decide upon a topic, and formulate a major research question to address the major research topic; and
- (B) formulate a plan for engaging in in-depth research on a complex, multi-faceted topic.

- (21) Research/Gathering Sources. Students determine, locate, and explore the full range of relevant sources addressing a research question and systematically record the information they gather. Students are expected to:
- (A) follow the research plan to gather evidence from experts on the topic and texts written for informed audiences in the field, distinguishing between reliable and unreliable sources and avoiding over-reliance on one source;
- (B) systematically organize relevant and accurate information to support central ideas, concepts, and themes, outline ideas into conceptual maps/timelines, and separate factual data from complex inferences; and

- (22) Research/Synthesizing Information. Students clarify research questions and evaluate and synthesize collected information. Students are expected to:
- (A) modify the major research question as necessary to refocus the research plan;

- (20) Research/Research Plan. Students ask open-ended research questions and develop a plan for answering them. Students are expected to:

- (b) Knowledge and skills.

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**Benchmark Lesson 3**

**Overview of the lesson**

Goal: Revisit the Mars scenario – come up with an optimal house.

Activity: Students will be in groups. The teacher will conduct an interactive lecture introducing life on Mars. Then, each group will work together and brainstorm a list of things they think would be important to include on Mars. The teacher will ask for responses from the groups and each group will send someone up to write their responses (no repeats). Then each group will choose several to conduct independent research on and incorporate into their design. Teacher will then show a few ways to conduct research.

**Objectives**

Students will be able to:

- Make choices for feasibility for implementation (aware of their own limitations)
- Conduct research
- Design their own experiments and questions and conduct research on them

**Alignment with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)**

This lesson addresses the following TEKS:

- Science (Physics)
- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- (2) Scientific processes. The student uses a systematic approach to answer scientific laboratory and field investigative questions. The student is expected to:
- (E) design and implement investigative procedures, including making observations, asking well-defined questions, formulating testable hypotheses, identifying variables, selecting appropriate equipment and technology, and evaluating numerical answers for reasonableness;

- (2) Scientific processes. The student uses a systematic approach to answer scientific laboratory and field investigative questions. The student is expected to:

- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- Language Arts (English III)
- (b) Knowledge and skills.
- (20) Research/Research Plan. Students ask open-ended research questions and develop a plan for answering them. Students are expected to:
- (A) brainstorm, consult with others, decide upon a topic, and formulate a major research question to address the major research topic; and
- (B) formulate a plan for engaging in in-depth research on a complex, multi-faceted topic.

- (21) Research/Gathering Sources. Students determine, locate, and explore the full range of relevant sources addressing a research question and systematically record the information they gather. Students are expected to:
- (A) follow the research plan to gather evidence from experts on the topic and texts written for informed audiences in the field, distinguishing between reliable and unreliable sources and avoiding over-reliance on one source;
- (B) systematically organize relevant and accurate information to support central ideas, concepts, and themes, outline ideas into conceptual maps/timelines, and separate factual data from complex inferences; and

- (22) Research/Synthesizing Information. Students clarify research questions and evaluate and synthesize collected information. Students are expected to:
- (A) modify the major research question as necessary to refocus the research plan;

- (20) Research/Research Plan. Students ask open-ended research questions and develop a plan for answering them. Students are expected to:

- (b) Knowledge and skills.

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**Benchmark Lesson 4**

**Overview of the lesson**

Goal: Review circuits, current/voltage/resistance, calculating values, series/parallel circuits

Activity: Assessment. At their table, groups will work on these assessments together. One involves building a circuit with a specific goal (ie: brightest bulb using all the available components, and explain why). Another involves properly using the multi-meter to measure values in a simple circuit. Another involves the same as the previous, but with a more complicated circuit (with parallel/series connections). After each task, the class will come back together and discuss their findings with each other.

**Objectives**

Students will be able to:

- Use a multi-meter to measure current, voltage, and resistance
- Design a circuit using series and parallel combinations, resistances
- Calculate voltage, resistance, and current and explain why measured values do not match exactly

**Alignment with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)**

This lesson addresses the following TEKS:

- Science (Physics)
- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- (1) Scientific processes. The student conducts investigations, for at least 40% of instructional time, using safe, environmentally appropriate, and ethical practices. These investigations must involve actively obtaining and analyzing data with physical equipment, but may also involve experimentation in a simulated environment as well as field observations that extend beyond the classroom. The student is expected to:
- (A) demonstrate safe practices during laboratory and field investigations; and

- (5) Science concepts. The student knows the nature of forces in the physical world. The student is expected to:
- (F)
**design**, construct, and calculate in terms of current through, potential difference across, resistance of, and power used by electric circuit elements connected in both series and parallel combinations;

- (F)
- (2) Scientific processes. The student uses a systematic approach to answer scientific laboratory and field investigative questions. The student is expected to:
- (F) demonstrate the use of course apparatus, equipment, techniques, and procedures, including
**multimeters (current, voltage, resistance),**power supply, stop watches, mini lamps (bulbs) and sockets, electrostatics kits, - (H) make measurements with accuracy and precision and record data using scientific notation and International System (SI) units
- (J) organize and evaluate data and make inferences from data, including the use of tables, charts, and graphs;

- (F) demonstrate the use of course apparatus, equipment, techniques, and procedures, including

- (1) Scientific processes. The student conducts investigations, for at least 40% of instructional time, using safe, environmentally appropriate, and ethical practices. These investigations must involve actively obtaining and analyzing data with physical equipment, but may also involve experimentation in a simulated environment as well as field observations that extend beyond the classroom. The student is expected to:

- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- Math (Algebra II)
- (c) Knowledge and skills.
- (1) Mathematical process standards. The student uses mathematical processes to acquire and demonstrate mathematical understanding. The student is expected to:
- (A) apply mathematics to problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace;
- (B) use a problem-solving model that incorporates analyzing given information, formulating a plan or strategy, determining a solution, justifying the solution, and evaluating the problem-solving process and the reasonableness of the solution;

- (2) Attributes of functions and their inverses. The student applies mathematical processes to understand that functions have distinct key attributes and understand the relationship between a function and its inverse. The student is expected to:
- (B) graph and write the inverse of a function using notation such as
*f*-1 (*x*); - (C) describe and analyze the relationship between a function and its inverse (quadratic and square root, logarithmic and exponential), including the restriction(s) on domain, which will restrict its range;

- (B) graph and write the inverse of a function using notation such as

- (1) Mathematical process standards. The student uses mathematical processes to acquire and demonstrate mathematical understanding. The student is expected to:

- (c) Knowledge and skills.

__Citation__

1. Bell, R. Smetana, L., & Binns. I. (2005). Simplifying inquiry instruction. The Science Teacher.

2. Dial, K. Riddley, D., Williams, K., & Sampson V. (2009). Addressing misconceptions: A

demonstration to help students understand the law of conservation of mass. The Science Teacher