About Environmental Inquiry
About Environmental Inquiry
Environmental Inquiry (EI) is a website and curriculum series developed at Cornell University to help students conduct environmental science research. Our goals are for students to:
1) Develop research skills,
2) Use these skills to design and conduct research projects focusing on relevant local environmental science topics,
3) Participate in communities of fellow student scientists, and
4) Enhance their understanding of scientific content and process.
Rather than learning science as a static body of facts, EI students experience the research process through which scientific understandings are formed and continually revised. Instead of memorizing a "scientific method," they discover for themselves the multifaceted nature of scientific research. By studying problems relevant to their communities, they discover interconnections between science and society.
Levels of Inquiry
EI is organized into two levels of inquiry modeled after research activities conducted by professional scientists. Students first learn standard research methods, or protocols. Then, they explore possibilities for using these protocols to address relevant research questions. After planning and carrying out one or more interactive research experiments, students present and discuss the results with their peers and possibly also with interested community groups.
In order to provide interactive web-based opportunities for students, we have created two websites:
1) The Cornell EI site you currently are visiting, which is designed for use by high school students and teachers, and
2) Our EI site at Penn State University, which is designed for use by undergraduate science and science education students and faculty.
What do teachers and students think about Environmental Inquiry? Click here to hear their thoughts.
Together with the National Science Teachers Association, we are publishing four curricula, each consisting of a student edition and teacher's guide:
Assessing Toxic Risk
Students use bioassays to assess environmental health and make judgments about acceptable levels of risk. Currently available.
Ecology of Invasive Species
Students experiment with biological control, and measure impacts of invasive species on plant and animal communities and nutrient cycling. Currently available.
Decay and Renewal
Students explore the role of microorganisms and invertebrates in decomposing wastes and enhancing soils and aquatic environments. Currently available.
Students use aerial photographs, maps, and stream measurements to assess land use practices and their impacts on riparian habitats and water quality. Currently available.
The EI Team
EI represents a collaborative effort among scientists, science educators, and high school and middle school teachers. More about the EI Team.
Copyright © 2009 Environmental Inquiry, Cornell
University and Penn State University