Physical Models and Inquiry as Tools

Keeping it Real:

Physical Models and Inquiry as Tools Towards Finding

Creative Solutions to Real World Problems


David Jungblut1, Julianne M. Winters2, Anne N. Catena3, and Daniel I. Rubenstein4


1Oakcrest High School, Mays Landing, NJ

2Dept. of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

3Program in Teacher Preparation, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

4Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

It is a misconception that when teachers incorporate research into their classroom that they are unable to cover the necessary, required curriculum material. To the contrary, when working with real scientific data, students are in fact exposed to more material, not less. Here, the scientific method is used as a flexible tool – inspiring and helping students to properly order their thinking processes. Through Princeton’s Program in Teacher Preparation, and specifically the QUEST program, teachers are taught two very important tools towards leading research-based classrooms; reflections and inquiry-based questioning. In particular, these skills allow teachers to bring research into the classroom year after year, building their students research prowess and critical thinking skills. A QUEST graduate, Mr. David Jungblut, will present how he has incorporated reflection and inquiry-based learning into his classrooms studying local storms and hurricanes, such as Derecho, Katrina and Sandy. Through his activity, participants will be guided through question generation and then work together to find the imperative answers about why and how these storms occur and how they can affect natural systems. By teaching how to ask questions and reflect on their observations first, Jungblut has found his students now approach him first with questions after major storms, instead of having to initiate the conversation himself. Students are intrigued to decipher why their homes may have been flooded, while their neighbors remain dry, for example – an answer they can’t find in a textbook or search for online, yet are excited to tackle thanks to the confidence instilled in them through learning the scientific method.