Avoiding Cookie Cutter Science with Gifted Children by Moving Students through the Inquiry Process

Meg Shuman, Fourth Grade, Barringer Academic Center

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


The focus of this unit is on Inquiry investigations as opposed to the traditional, found in a textbook, “Cookie Cutter” recipe type science. Traditional textbook investigations usually tell the students exactly what to do (procedure) and often even what to expect will happen. Students do not have to worry about controlling variables, because the variables are already controlled within the design of the investigation. Because the steps of the investigation are spelled out in the science textbook, students do not learn how to set up activities in which they think critically about variables and controls and as a result the creation of a Science Fair project is met with great frustration. In this unit, the teacher will actively instruct the students in inquiry, gradually releasing the control of the design and implementation over to the students. As a result, the students will be expected to learn how real science works and will be expected to design a good inquiry investigation on their own, hopefully resulting in quality Science Fair projects and engaged student-scientists.