Reviewed by Eloise Farmer
This is a book that has two distinct roles and audiences. It might be used as a textbook for beginning teachers of science or an intriguing refresher course in the methods of inquiry for inservice teachers and professional communities.
The book includes creative problems to be solved and activities to use in the classroom. Readers might find themselves frustrated by some of those problems, since answers are not always provided. That's why the book would be most effective when it was shared with an experienced mentor. For example, in the chapter on Learning Cycles, the reader is told to: “create a learning cycle lesson that, among other features, uses leftovers from students’ lunches to teach about the difference between garbage items that are biodegradable and those that are not.” A teacher might use this as a starting–off point to a truly creative project, but it would take time and effort. There are also multiple choice reviews of sections of the text without an answer key.
On the other hand, science educators can find many exciting ideas for activities they can use with their students in this book. They can learn about optimal methods for teaching skills and for using inquiry. They are shown ways to change “cookbook” activities into inquiry–based constructivist activities, and to carry out activities which can get rid of misconceptions. There is also sound pedagogy here; educators can learn about the capacity of the brain to carry out activities at different age levels, which helps to explain why some material is best introduced at certain times in the life of a student.
For teachers who need both background and inspiration, this resource will provide fresh ideas and a path toward implementing inquiry–based science at all levels. But like all great resources, it will work best when the reader has the time and resources to digest its insights before implementing the ideas in the classroom.
Review posted on 4/25/2012