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Inquiry Learning in Science and Beyond

Teacher Story

ISEC Teacher Jen Kennedy

Students from Jen Kennedy's third grade class at Nava Elementary learned about the Sun, Moon & Stars with the support of the Inquiry Science Education Consortium (ISEC) experiential materials and curriculum. Tracking the position of the sun and their shadows, allows the class to make observations at different times of the day then analyze their data against earlier predictions.

This is just one of various lessons Ms. Kennedy uses to engage her students in understanding our solar system. As a skilled teacher, she also creates other pathways to learning beyond the curriculum, recognizing that science can also be an entry point for creativity, building vocabulary, strengthening literacy, and sharing ideas and feelings.

Students with solar system diagram
The class created a diagram of the solar system.

Ms. Kennedy reads aloud an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican with her students about "a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto." The class identifies evidence in the text, new vocabulary, and parts of a newspaper article.

Based on the reading, each student creates a clay model of "Planet Nine" showing possible characteristics like a rocky surface, water, or rings. Then starting with the Sun, students name the "major planets" then line up in order. They share how they think Planet Nine would feel all by itself at the edge of the solar system.

Student with Jan Kennedy

Imaging themselves as the lonely planet, each student writes a letter to the other planets using at least two sentences that contain facts from the article and two more that describe their feelings. Students revised their rough draft from Ms. Kennedy’s proofreading edits then rewrote a final copy of the letter with a labeled drawing.