What is the minimum time requirement for one unit of science "with inquiry-based laboratory experience?"
"With inquiry-based laboratory experience" indicates that there will be student-centered, problem-solving components throughout the course. While this could be accomplished within the minimum 150 hours for one unit of a laboratory course, under the current language of ORC §3313.603C, this also could be accomplished within the minimum 120 hours for one unit.
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What science courses do students need to take in the Ohio Core?
ORC §3313.603(C)(5) requires students to earn three units with inquiry-based laboratory experience that engages students in asking valid scientific questions and gathering and analyzing information. This includes the following or its equivalent:
- One unit of physical sciences;
- One unit of life sciences; and
- One unit of advance study1 in one or more of the following sciences:
- Chemistry, physics or other physical science;
- Advanced biology or other life science; or
- Astronomy, physical geology or other earth or space science.
1 An advanced course for science builds on content beyond Physical Science and Biology provided in Ohio's Learning Standards Science. Physical Science and Biology are foundational courses for high school science.
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What is “inquiry-based” instruction in science?
Scientific inquiry is "the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Scientific inquiry also refers to the activities through which students develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world."2
"Inquiry-based" instruction in science is an active way for students to obtain scientific knowledge that involves all of the following in one way or another:
- making observations and describing objects and events;
- identifying and asking valid and testable questions to guide scientific investigations;
- examining books and other sources and learning from lectures or discussions to gather information to see what is already known;
- reflecting on appropriate scientific practices and procedures during the planning, designing and conducting of investigations;
- using tools to gather, analyze and interpret data;
- using technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications;
- organizing, evaluating and interpreting observations, measurements and other data;
- reviewing what is already known in light of experimental evidence;
- developing hypotheses and alternative explanations, proposing answers, suggesting models and providing predictions;
- evaluating a variety of assumptions and conclusions and revising explanatory models using logic and evidence;
- communicating ideas, results of investigations and scientific arguments to others for discussion and evaluation.
The components3 listed above should not be considered as a fixed sequence of steps in instruction. Different kinds of inquiry suggest different kinds of investigations for students to conduct.4 The components of scientific inquiry listed above encompass the teaching strategies expected in an inquiry-based, laboratory experience science course (and science laboratory course for districts using that means of scheduling classes). Scientific inquiry also is a set of abilities to be developed and concepts to be understood by students.
2 National Research Council (1996), National Education Standards, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, p 23.
3 Adapted from the following documents: American Association for the Advancement of Science (2001), Atlas of Science Literacy, Project 2061, Washington DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science and National Teachers Association, p 16-17; National Research Council (1996), National Science Education Standards, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, p 23; Ohio Academy of Sciences (2006), “ What is Science?”, Ohio Journal of Science 106 (4): p 130; (2007).
4 National Science Teachers Association statement on scientific inquiry: http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/inquiry.aspx
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What are the differences between a "laboratory experience" and a "laboratory course?"
All science instruction must be inquiry-based and include "laboratory experience." A laboratory experience should reflect the Cognitive Demand categories Demonstrating Science Knowledge and Designing Technological/Engineering Solutions Using Science Concepts and guide students as they collect, analyze and interpret data while conducting scientific investigations. A district may choose to provide that instruction in a standard course that meets at least 120 contact hours for issuance of one credit or in a "laboratory" course that meets at least 150 contact hours for issuance of one credit. Regardless of the approach taken, the instruction must be inquiry-based, provide laboratory experience and align with Ohio's Learning Standards for Science.
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