Inquiry-based use of the Internet in support of science learning

New Kids on the Net: Internet Activities in Secondary Science

DO-IT Internet Science Workshop

Kurt Sahl

August 5, 1999

Key points about using the Internet to support science learning:

1. The Web is usually thought of as an extremely large library. Data and information exist on the Web, but how can you use it to get smarter? Ask good questions! (pg. 51)

2. Know what you will use to locate useful information. Some people use the same search engine repeatedly. Try different search engines to find out the kinds of information each one extracts from the Web before placing it into their database (pg. 53). Also, there are different ways to search: searchable indexes, subject catalogs, annotated directories, subject guides, and specialized directories. The Internet Scout is helpful on this topic: Get to know and understand the limitations of each method for information gathering.

3. Become familiar with student-friendly sites. (pg. 14) For example:

Franklin Institute Science Museum

MAD Scientist Network

The Science Hobbyist

4. Be on the lookout for unique Web sites. Before sharing them with others, take a few minutes to evaluate the content of the site (pg. 195).

5. Perhaps you've heard about a scientific breakthrough or discovery about which you are interested and you can't find an answer to a specific question you may have. Don't be bashful about asking an expert (pg. 119). There are many scientists who would love nothing better than to share their expertise with a budding scientist. But, don't abuse this part of the Web. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that you want someone else to do your homework!

6. Think BIG. The Internet is there for you to extract from it. It is also there to provide you with ideas for your own investigations (pg. 135). Once you've traversed the cyber-landscape on a particular topic, it's possible to add your own discoveries and knowledge to the WWW by creating your own Web site. There is no better way (or cheaper) to reach an audience of millions!

7. Lastly, inquiry is about finding answers to your own questions. If your research is on, let's say, ozone depletion or the greenhouse effect or you-name-it, there are whole research institutes dedicated to specific aspects of these issues and you may not learn as much as you could. You might learn more by asking questions like, "If there is an ozone hole over the South Pole, why isn't there one over the North Pole?" Now you're doing science!



1. What Causes Lightning? (p. 85).

2. Why Do Differences in Beach Temperatures Exist? (p. 125).