Structures for Immersing Students to Identify an Interest for Science Projects

In the this post, science teacher Courtney Garside describes how the Open and Immerse phases of Guided Inquiry were developed to help students see the science in their everyday lives, to read a wide variety of materials and think about their own interests.  Taking this time to wonder, think and investigate,  these students found their interests and stuck with them throughout the project.

 This is a core principle of Guided Inquiry Design.  Students need time in the beginning to think, wonder and investigate a little through exploring some ideas, and interests.  They also need some ways to capture their thinking.

Many middle school teacher teams have commented that middle school students need more structures within an inquiry process to support them. Middle School students are still developing their understanding of self as learner and structures to scaffold and support that learning a a tremendous help.

Courtney created a set of resources for all the teachers and students in this team.  These are wonderful examples. Courtney was able to apply the principles of the GId Process and strategies to help organize and provide structure for the middle school science fair unit. In these Courtney found an amazing balance with use of note catchers that accomplish the engagement of that phase and capture the original intent of GId.  These are a wonderful model for any unit and could be adapted in all kinds of ways. (Each form is offered here in Google doc format.  You’ll need to make a copy- please leave Courtney’s attribution on the bottom of the form if you use it, or share it in any way. Credit attributed to GId is also appreciated. Thanks in advance.)

Designing the Science Fair Project with GId

Here Courtney generously shares the templates she created to map what the students were doing for class onto the GId Process.  The activities and resources she created with her teammates worked to support students to find their interests over the first week of the project in the Open, Immerse, and Explore phases of Guided Inquiry Design. (See process model to the right.)  These are exemplary and paired with teachers who have a deep understanding of the process, work together to guide student learning to exceptional outcomes.


# 1 – Scientific Thinking and Observation

SWBAT explain the components of the science fair project and begin brainstorming ways that scientists follow their interests

Questions/Observations lo


#2 Branches of Science

SWBAT identify and describe two different branches of science.

Branches of Science Instructions

Branches of Science worksheet


#3 Interest Survey Explore with Stop and Jot

SWBAT connect their extracurricular interests to science concepts

What Are Your Interests?

Interest Stop & Jot


#4 Sharing Ideas Generates New Thinking

SWBAT articulate ideas from their mindmaps in Inquiry Circles

Pair Share Protocol

Student Worksheet


#5  Presenting my Idea and Getting Peer Feedback

SWBAT articulate their science project topic to their peers in order to give and providing feedback in Inquiry Circles

Identifying Inquiry Circles

The entire unit plan is here 

Thank you Courtney for your hard work on these documents and for sharing them with our GId community!

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

Author Guided Inquiry Design

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