Owen Presents at National STEM Foundation

July 29, 2016 — Brewster Academy science department chair Tom Owen presented at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) STEM conference in Denver today.

Owen’s presentation emphasized a series of biology lessons on mass transport, osmosis, and diffusion, using the 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate) learning cycle model as a lesson design framework.

“The presentation was very well received,” Owen said. “I was psyched to feel the enthusiasm from all the science educators in room.”

Owen, who is pursuing his doctoral degree in mathematics, science, and learning technologies, says inquiry-oriented teaching practices are those that facilitate learning activities grounded in questioning and problem solving. “Underpinning these practices are principles of constructivism that suggest students learn best when they construct meaning of observed phenomena on their own,” he says.

Although the term “inquiry” has been used in science education for decades, it has not taken center stage as a pedagogical method employed by most teachers, according to Owen. “Research suggests that one reason lies in the simple fact that teachers perceive ‘inquiry’ as difficult to accomplish, and quite frankly, do not know what this could look like in a classroom.”

In his presentation he demonstrated just what inquiry looks like in the classroom through sharing a series of lessons that were developed within the frameworks of the 5E learning cycle for his Brewster classes. For contrast, Owen included a traditional, commonplace method for teaching the same unit.

According to its website, NSTA is the largest organization in the world committed to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. Members include science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in and committed to science education.

Read more about inquiry-based learning in these Brewster publications:
Article (March 2016).
White Paper (January 2016).