to organize their work, and so themselves, to focus on three kinds of factors: physical, chemical, and biological. The group investigating physical factors is interested in temperature, color, limits of light penetration, and amounts and types of suspended particles. The chemical factors group wants to learn about pH (which they have measured in various classes in past years and suspect might have something to do with a lake’s “condition”), and amounts of oxygen, carbon dioxide, phosphates, and nitrates. The biological group wants to investigate the numbers and kinds of organisms.
Students decide to design the inquiry as follows. Each group will gather data for a period of two months, reporting all results to the other groups on a regular basis. Each group also will report about their ideas and what their library and computer searches suggest about the potential influence of the factors they are studying on the quality of city lake.
Ms. Idoni is very pleased with the way the class investigation is taking shape. Although she knows the students will still struggle with the question of how to determine what counts as pollution, and especially the human influence, she lets this issue remain unresolved. In fact, knowing it will emerge on its own, she doesn’t bring it up.
Ms. Idoni is especially aware of three things. First, she keeps a mental list of the inquiry abilities for grades 9-12 and notes which abilities the students are engaged in as the inquiry progresses. Second, she recognizes that students are using what they have learned of physical and life sciences earlier in the year, especially the fundamental understandings associated with the life science standard on the interdependence of organisms (see Table 3-5). Finally, Ms. Idoni sees that this entire inquiry is providing ample opportunities for all students to understand several parts of the standard on science in personal and social perspectives, especially those associated with natural resources and environmental quality (see Table 3-6).
As the students begin organizing their group investigations, they easily and quickly recognize that the use of various technologies will improve data gathering and mathematics will improve the summary and presentation of data. For example, they decide to set up temperature probes and record data directly into computers, and to use Hach oxygen test kits, a pH meter, a Millipore environmental microbiology kit, and common items that help them gather samples for examination in the science classroom.
Ms. Idoni schedules periodic meetings in which the students share data they have collected and present what they understand about the influence of various factors. With time, students begin to realize that the