Inquiry Demonstration Labs

The ISEE Inquiry Demonstration Labs were established in Spring 2015 and are a venue for innovating new curriculum and teaching strategies at UCSC. The current focus is on biology, chemistry, and physics courses, in support of a new effort to transform introductory science courses stimulated by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (#52008112; PI: Paul Koch), along with funding directly from UC Santa Cruz. PDP participants design inquiry activities that engage undergraduate students in active learning focused on core concepts and practices identified by faculty members as particularly challenging for students. Components of the activities designed and taught for the Inquiry Demonstration Labs, and teaching strategies used to engage students, are being integrated into new active learning courses.

Inquiry Demonstration Labs provide opportunities to:

  • Pilot and gather feedback on innovative curriculum designs and teaching techniques that foster active learning and mirror authentic research
  • Pilot new assessment strategies and tools
  • Practice on-the-fly strategies for helping students work productively and inclusively in groups
  • Observe piloted designs and teaching techniques

Sampling of Demonstration Lab activities:

A meiosis activity (relevant to Biology 20A) engaged students in investigating abnormal karyotypes by modeling meiosis and constructing explanations of where abnormalities occurred, supported by evidence from their models.

water transport activity (relevant to Biology 20B) engaged students in investigations about plant guard cells, marine iguanas, and kangaroo rat kidneys through modeling passive and active water transport and working with evidence statements drawn from the literature. 

Quotes from students who volunteered to participate in the labs:

"It was a much different way of learning, great. You have to trust your own knowledge and intuition, something I was never able to do before."

"Using info to create my own model was more science than lectures or pre-made labs." 

"We had to work together, we each had our own strengths, we found a way to bring out what we know."

"For the first time, it felt like we were at a research university. We used our minds."