Inqiury Based Learning in STEM Education: Mathematics

Love is all around

Attaching padlocks, especially to bridge railings, has been a popular trend among newly in love couples for years as a symbol of their love. However, in several cities padlocks have already been removed because they block the passage and the total weight of the locks should endanger the safety of the bridge?

Do you share the safety concerns if a bridge is hung with love locks?







IBL in this Example

Characteristics of IBL

How to use IBL in STEM Ed

The Question of the padlocks overall weight depends on several uncertainfactors, i.e. avarage weight of the padlocks, geometry of the bridge (lenght, type of railings, density of the padlocs etc).

Students must make certain assumptions and use them to design a mathematical model that describes the ultimate load of the bridge. The model is then validated and revised if necessary.

IBL is characterized as follows: Students…

• create their own scientifically oriented questions;

• give priority to evidence in responding to questions;

• ormulate explanations based on evidence;

• connect explanations to scientific knowledge;

• communicate and justify explanations

Conclusion: IBL tasks are self differentiating tasks


Usually, students process an IBL task as follows (Research Cycle)


1. Formulate a specific question (Ask)

2. Use the existing knowledge to understand the problem and investigating possible solutions (Investigate)

3. Create new findings based on the previous findings (Create)

4. Discuss the findings (Discuss)  

5. Evaluate the result and, if necessary, improve the solution (Reflect)

Tasks presented…

• Are accessible by all students

• Provide achievable challenges

• Develop fluency, understanding and processes

• Offer multiple entry points

• Involve using a range of methods and strategies

• Value the process rather than the answer


The role of a teacher in using IBL in STEM education

• Looks into and challenges student thinking and reasoning

• Instigates the evaluation and communication of strategies

• Uncovers misconceptions

• Supports student to learn from mistakes

• Provokes and stimulates the exploration of alternative routes


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