Project-based Inquiry Science for Middle School Science Learners

Mary Starr
Project-based Inquiry Science (PBIS) is a recently published middle school science curriculum that emphasizes learning science and engineering through projects. Funded by the National Science Foundation and published by It’s About Time, PBIS materials are aligned with the National Science Education Standards and with most state standards documents. PBIS is becoming the middle school science curriculum for students across the country, as it incorporates research-based pedagogies into the learning experiences of students, while meeting the needs of schools and teachers. The PBIS curriculum employs a system of Big Questions and Big Challenges to focus students on scientific and engineering design practices in each unit. Students become experienced at using various scientific models and computer-based simulations, creating and updating scientific explanations, sharing their ideas with others through a variety of formats, and listening to the ideas of others and incorporating these ideas into their own knowledge base. The Project Board is an instructional and learning tool that is embedded within each unit to assist students in identifying changes in their learning over time. The Project Board also supports students as they develop understanding of how to ask testable questions and search for answers to these questions, and how to support their ideas with evidence. By continually updating the Project Board throughout the unit, students develop deeper content knowledge, share ideas with others, and create a public display of the class understanding that shows growth and change over time.