The use of primary scientific inquiry and experimentation to develop students' understanding of methodologies used by scientists and the nature of science is a key component of the Next-Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Introduction to inquiry-based experimentation also has been shown to improve students' attitudes and interest in science. However, implementing scientific inquiry activities that include experimental design and data analysis in a classroom of middle or high school students can be daunting for teachers with limited experimental experience. Here, we present a fourto five-day, inquiry-based laboratory activity designed to teach students about the scientific process and excite them about scientific discovery while providing opportunities for interactions of both teachers and students with scientists in the field. Within this laboratory module, students make observations and develop their own research questions, then design, execute, analyze, and present the results of their hypothesis-driven experiments investigating the behavior of Caenorhabditis elegans, a relatively inexpensive and tractable model organism. Our experience running this module in a middle school biology classroom suggests students enjoyed the opportunity to investigate their own research questions, and post-course surveys indicated that students' fear of biology decreased and their interest in biology-related careers increased following participation in the module.
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Vol. 79 • No. 8