Inquiry Based Learning in STEM Education: Chemistry

Instant Ice

First aid teams must be prepared to assist in various urgent situations. Their bags have a variety of equipment and products to ensure first assistance. In the case of joint injuries, or acute inflammatory processes, ice application is common. As such, first responders must have compresses in their bags, that, after being tightened and shaken, become very cold.

How do these compresses work?







IBL in this Example

Characteristics of IBL

How to use IBL in STEM Ed

This IBL task allows not only the construction of new knowledge, but also the development of investigative skills. Students are confronted with an initial question, which reports them to previous knowledge related to endothermic and exothermic processes. In this particular case, the students investigate the phenomenon under study and explore it, through the planning and realization of an experimental activity. During the activity, students are placed at the heart of the learning process and develop multiple skills, such as formulating hypotheses, researching, selecting relevant information, planning experiences, controlling variables, recording observations, negotiating ideas, researching, etc.

IBL is characterized as follows: Students…

• create their own scientifically oriented questions;

• give priority to evidence in responding to questions;

• formulate explanations based on evidence;

• connect explanations to scientific knowledge;

• communicate and justify explanations

Conclusion: IBL tasks are self differentiating tasks


Usually the 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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