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Science Fun

Fall 2007

SEYS 767.3 Enhancing Inquiry in Science Instruction

Dr. Brian Murfin  

Location:  Powdermaker 004

Thursdays 7:10 to 9:40pm

Office location:  PH 150P                                                           
Office hours: Wednesday  and Thursday 4-5 PM & by appointment                                                                        
(718) 997-5150 SEYS
 (718) 997-5066 Voicemail
(718)997-5152 Fax
Web site:

This 3-credit graduate course is designed for science teachers who teach secondary level regents science and/or science programs in grades 7-12. It is intended to give practicing teachers the opportunity to examine, revise and create science investigations, demonstrations, laboratory experiments and alternative forms of assessment for secondary students using constructivist principles to guide the process. The central goals are to teach science teachers how to design curricula that enhance students’ science investigative and critical thinking skills. As a product of the course, each teacher will create a portfolio that will include a school science project that incorporates alternative assessment, laboratory experiments and demonstrations that target the abilities of a diverse population of middle and high school students.

Conceptual Framework: Queens College Principles for Educator Preparation 

This course is being offered by the Secondary Science Education Program in the Department of Secondary Education which is part of the Education Unit at Queens College. The Education Unit seeks to promote equity, excellence, and ethics in urban education and is committed to developing competencies in all teacher preparation and other education professional candidates that will enable them to: This course is aligned with the Education Unit’s commitment to preparing educational professionals to work in diverse urban and suburban communities. Specifically, the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that candidates will development/demonstrate at the successful completion of this course are directly linked to the Education Unit’s seven principles: 1) discipline specific competencies, 2) learning and development, 3) families and urban communities, 4) diversity, inclusion, democracy and social justice, 5) language and literacy, 6) curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and 7) technology.

By the end of the course, science teachers will be able to:
1. Evaluate the quality of science demonstrations and laboratory experiences that promote critical thinking and align with a program’s curriculum standards.
2. Perform science demonstrations that have the potential to enhance enquiry and promote scientific thinking process skills and align with a program’s curriculum standards.
3. Create, design and implement science demonstrations and student activities that promote critical thinking that require students to use science process skills to seek answers to explain science phenomena.
4. Assess science-related process skills employing performance-based rubrics that require all students to demonstrate their understanding of science and align with a program’s curriculum standards.

    1. Textbook (optional): Trowbridge, L. and R. Bybee. (Latest edition). Teaching Secondary School Science – Strategies for Developing Scientific Literacy, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Merrill.
    2. Supplementary Resources: Rosenthal Library – Reserve - SEYS 767.3 1st fl. & Science curriculum materials – Education- 3rd fl.
    3. Resource book (recommended): Tik L.Liem. (1989). Invitations to science inquiry. El Cajon, CA : Science Inquiry Enterprises.


Optional Reading assignments: Teaching Secondary School Science – Trowbridge & Bybee
The reading assignments are scheduled below. A separate schedule for weekly presentations will be distributed after the first week.*

Week 1 – 8/30/07 - Overview and introduction.  Introduction to the Scitek Cart.  

Class activities:
Week 2 – 9/6/07 -   What is the nature of science? Inquiry? Assessment? What are the characteristics of the science program in your school?

Class Activities:  
Week 3 – 9/13/07 - NO CLASS

Week 4 – 9/20/07 - Investigation and Problem Solving – Chap. 12

Class activities:  
Week 5 - 9/27/07 - TBA

Class activities:  
Week 6 – 10/4/07 - Demonstration and Laboratory Work – Chap. 7

Class activities:  
Week 7 – 10/11/07 - New Models for Assessment – Chap. 18

Class activities:  
Week 8 - 10/18/07 - Online Class - The Psychological Basis for Effective Science Teaching – Chap. 19

Class activities:  
Week 9 – 10/25/07 - CLASS IS CANCELED - Individual and Cultural Differences in Science Classrooms – Chap. 20

Class activities:  
Week 10 – 11/1/07 - Continuation of individual and cultural differences

Class activities:  
Week 11 – 11/8/07 - Safety and Classroom Management in Science Classrooms – Chap. 21

Class activities:  
Week 12 – 11/15/07 - Misconceptions, Preconceptions and science learning

Class activities:  
Week 13 – 11/20/07 – NO CLASS on 11/22 - Thanksgiving Recess

Week 14 – 11/29/07 - Technology in Science Teaching and Learning – Chap. 22

Class activities:  
Week 15 - 12/6/07 -   Online lesson - Teaching and learning science in virtual learning environments

Week 16 - 12/13/07  -

Class activities:
Week 17 - 12/20/07 - IMPORTANT:  WE WILL MEET FROM 6:15PM TO 8:15PM Finals week - Worldchanging project presentations

* Each teacher will be given four opportunities (approx. 10 minute sessions) to share instructional ideas with peers during the semester. At each meeting, designated teachers will present one or more science activities, demonstrations or lab experiments (hands-on demonstrations). The presentations will be followed by analysis and discussion. It is anticipated that both the performance and reflective aspect of this course will hone science teachers’ professional skills in identifying inquiry-based, problem-solving student-centered activities and teacher demos in the science classroom. Presentations should be accompanied by appropriate handouts . Your Project Portfolio is due when you present at the end of the semester. Please post update on your project on the discussion board in BlackBoard during Week 8. Two copies of your portfolio are due finals week.  Your portfolio consists of a report on your Worldchanging project including sample activities, alternative assessment tools and results, and samples of student work.  One copy of your portfolio will be returned. All assignments should also be submitted using the Digital Dropbox and discussion board in BlackBoard.


Evaluation: Grades will be based on the following criteria:

1. On-time presentations, as per schedule. Nonattendance will reflect in lower grade.
2. Participation in critique, feedback in debriefing period and presentations. Penalty for excessive, unexcused absences.
3. Professional Project Portfolios.

Grades will be based on the following assignments:

1. Individual presentations - May focus on lab experiments, student-centered investigations or teacher demos from school or other professional sources. Each teacher will present a demonstration or science activity designed to promote learning by science inquiry FOUR times/semester. 40 points
2. Weekly attendance and participation in Q & A period: critiques of key labs, demos and activities from school archives, lab technicians, texts or manuals; exchange of professional insights experiences, including tips, problems, resource sources. 20 points

3.Worldchanging Project Portfolio –Formatted according to portfolio guidelines *
This is a group project. Each group should consist of two to four students.  The project should meet the following guidelines:
Procedure for developing your Worldchanging Project:
  1. Form team, exchange contact information.
  2. Brainstorm and decide on project theme. Consult for ideas.
  3. Decide on goals of the project.
  4. Each team member should come up with at least three inquiry centered labs or student-centered inquiry activities, and three teacher demos requiring students to use critical process skills, or three additional student centered inquiry activities. These activities should be tested and evaluated in each team member's school.
  5. The team should come up with an alternative assessment plan for the project.
  6. Each team member should include samples of activities, demos, and assessment, along with data and student work samples in their individual portfolio.
More information will be provided in the Worldchanging Project Portfolio Guidelines.
No extensions. . Due Finals Week. 100 points
Your portfolio and all assignments should also be posted in BlackBoard on the class discussion board.

AssignmentsDue Date/sPoints
Individual presentation #19/13, 9/20, 92710
Individual presentation #210/4, 10/11, 10/1810
Individual presentation #310/25, 11/1, 11/810
Individual presentation #411/15, 11/29, 12/1310
(Project portfolio) 3 inquiry student activities (Labs or hands-on)12/1330
(Project portfolio) 3 inquiry demos (or 3 additional student Labs or hands-on activities)12/1330
(Project portfolio) Alternative assessment (report, data, student work samples)12/1330
(Project portfolio) Presentation12/13, 12/2010
Total possible points.140

EXTRA CREDIT:  Present your project in an informative and creative way on the web using a wiki, blog, web page or other tools.  10 points


Academic Dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion as provided at:

H.  ADA Statement

 Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should: (1) register with and provide documentation to the Special Services Office, Kiely 171; (2) bring a letter to the instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type. This should be done during the first week of class. For more information about services available to Queens students contact: Pratik Patel, Special Services Office; 171 Kiely Hall; 718-997-5870 (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). E-mail address:


All teacher education programs in New York State undergo periodic reviews by accreditation agencies and the state education department. For these purposes, samples of students’ work are made available to those professionals conducting the review. Student anonymity is assured under these circumstances. If you do not wish to have your work made available for these purposes, please let the professor know before the start of the second class. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Individual Presentations will begin September 13, 2007. The schedule will be posted on the web site and also in BlackBoard before Week 2.