Grade: Senior
Subject: Science

#3051. Inquiry in Science and Social Studies

Science, level: Senior
Posted Sat Feb 7 17:04:55 PST 2004 by Glen D. McClary (
D'Youville College, Buffalo, NY, USA
Materials Required: As listed in lesson plans
Activity Time: 1 - 3 periods
Concepts Taught: Critical Thinking and Current Events

Social Studies and Science Inquiry for Secondary School Students


There has been a great deal written about the interconnections between Science and Social Studies Inquiry as a learning tool for elementary students. Since many elementary teachers work in the core curriculum and are responsible for teaching all of these subjects, it is not surprising that they are able to merge these through inquiry.

It would seem that we can extend this attitude and experience into our middle and high school classrooms so that the process started in the earlier grades continues to bring fruit in the later years of education before these students go on to higher education, employment or other endeavors.

It seems appropriate that the model presented here is developed from a constructivst paradigm of teaching and learning.
In this model science and social studies teachers (pre-service, first year, and experienced) would develop learning experiences that help students to merge science and social studies, via current events or scientific history, to create a more powerful learning environment that meets the needs of today's diversified classrooms. During common planning time the teachers would create these lessons with the following goals:

1. improve social studies literacy
2. improve science literacy
3. improve reading and writing
4. improve the student's ability to take responsibility
for their learning
5. Develop improved research techniques
6. Develop improved critical thinking and communication
7. Help meet NY state social studies and science standards
at a higher level, with emphasis on the Mastery level
8. Give students and understanding of the "thematic units"
connectivity in social studies and science
9. Improve class participation by students
10. Improve classroom mangement for the teacher
11. Improve the qualities of the teachers as facilitators
12. Meet the needs of an increasingly diverse classroom
population, with continued emphasis on students of
special needs (inclusion)
13. Develop and improve the assessment process within and
across the science and social studies curricula.
14.That the study of the social world gives students' an awareness that man tries to harness both the natural and man-made sciences.
15. Develop an awareness of how science impacts the students' daily social world (i.e., the current power outage, the inventions of the computer,terrorism anfd the nuclear age)


It seems appropriate to look at inquiry at the secondary level as a series of stages or stops on a trail. There are many ways to use inquiry successfully with students and no single methodology is appropriate or applicable in each case. It does seem clear that there is some type of continum upon which teachers can move students that move the students from the teacher's responsiblity to being self responsible. That continuum might look like the following:

Guided Inquiry

Structured Self Initiated
Inquiry Inquiry


1. Current events
2. History of science/Scientific history
3. Moral and ethical considerations in science
4. Good citizenship and science
5. The politics of science
6. The economics of science
7. Global issues and science: environment, war, famine, etc. 8. Society and science
9. Anthropology and Sociology as a reflection of today's science
10. Career education
11. ??


1. Connectivity through exploration and investigation:
Scope and sequence

2. Design methods for information and data collection

3. Research and investigation to collect, organize and
present information and data

4. Search for the construction of patterns and the meaning
of those patterns in student's everyday lives and the
lives of those they touch in today's society

5. Relationship of cross curricular inquiry to improved
learning and retention of material

6. Improvement of self concept, self esteem and self aware-

7. Exceed the minimum NYS standards in social studies and science for each grade level 7 - 12
1) Lesson Plan: Examining the Process of Globalization: The Haitian Experience with Disney

Time: 75 Minutes

Overview: This purpose of this lesson is to make secondary students cognizant of the perils of globalization--'the process of transnational corporations weaving 'global webs of production, commerce, culture and finance virtually unopposed' to Third World peoples across the globe (Karliner, 1997). Specifically, students will examine how the Walt Disney Company, over the past two decades, has developed manufacturing plants in Haiti for the sole purpose of maximizing profits. Disney's thirst to feed its corporate coffers has not only left Haitian workers in the throes of poverty and pollution, but has also left many U.S. workers, those who once toiled for this 'magical' corporation, permanently out of work.

National Council for the Social Studies: Standard 9: This lesson meets the Council's standard on 'Global Connections: 'At the high school level, students are able to think systematically about personal, national, and global decisions, interactions, and consequences, including addressing critical issues such as peace, human rights, trade, and global ecology.'

Instructional Objectives:
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to explain 3 factors that fueled Disney to construct sweatshops in Haiti.
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to evaluate how Disney's experiment has economically, socially, and ecologically affected the men, women and children of Haiti by writing a one-page essay.
At the end of the lesson, students will be able to evaluate whether Disney's labor practices are rooted in violating human rights.

Procedure: Motivation and Introduction:

1. Pass out several Disney t-shirts to the students and ask the question: 'where was this clothing made?'
2. Ask students 'Why were the shirts made in Haiti?' List students' responses on the board.
3. Summarize students' ideas.

4. Lead a discussion about Globalization, outlining several factors that have fueled transactional corporations to set up shop in Third World countries.
5. Students watch the National Labor Committee's Disney Goes to Haiti.
6. Students work collaboratively in small groups of 3 or 4 to evaluate the impact of Globalization in relation to Haitian workers, Haitian children, and Disney's CEO Michael Eisner (See Handout).
7. Tell students they should also reflect upon whether Disney has violated the human rights of the Haitian people. They should evaluate whether the workers are paid a wage that meets their families basic needs, work in clean and safe working environments, live in safe and sanitary conditions, and are afforded the right to a free public education.
8. Elicit various responses from the small groups
9. Ask students if corporations in the US, in some cases, violate the human rights of workers and families.

What factors facilitated Disney setting up operations in Haiti nearly 20 nears ago?
Why have some critics of Disney's labor practices in Haiti claim the company is creating a modern-slave system?

Teacher will check for understanding by motoring the cooperative activities.

Teacher will evaluate students' essays for level of understanding of key concepts.

Students will write a two-page, typewritten essay, where they will evaluate the economic, social, cultural and environmental impact of Globalization in Haiti.
Students will visit Student Committee Against Labor Exploitation's website for the purpose of evaluating the role teens have played in fighting unjust labor practices across the globe. Students should determine whether the teens' efforts have been effective in stemming the tide of Globalization. Finally, they should determine what types of actions are needed for people in North America to thwart Globalization during the 21st century.

Science Lesson Plan: Is global warming an issue of the cycles of the Ice Ages or the industrial reality and evironmental impact of globalization?

Instructional Objective: At the end of this lesson students will be able to compare and contrast the scientific data on global warming and state any relationship of global warming to the issue of globalization.

Materials: textbook, handouts, www.


Students will be allowed to go to library/media center and
search for materials on global warming. Particular attention
will be given to the several recent international conferences
on the subject.

Students will be put into small work groups to compile their
individual materials and prioritize their materials into
significant vs insignificant materials.

Each group will make a list of environmental effects of
global warming, causes and effects. They will list and explain at least five. If there are more than five they will come to consensus on the top five.

Students will come together as a large group and discuss and compare and contrast the individual group's results. A list will be produced, with the teacher's assistance, encorporating all groups causes/effects, eliminating overlaps.

Students will be sent back to their small groups and each group will produce a banner, sign or slogan that will emphasize their key cause/effect on global warming.

Evaluation: students will demonstrate their knowledge of the causes and effects of global warming, to include a definitive position as to the effects of globalization or natural phenomena of the cycle of warming and cooling of the earth over time. In addition they will produce evidence of their knowledge from a poster, banner or sign.

2) UNIT Plan: The Religion of Islam

Meets National Council for Social Studies Strand 1 (Culture) and Standard 2

Idea: Use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.

Lesson one

Instructional Objective: Students will demonstrate their comprehension of religious principles by stating five (5) tenets of Catholicism, Hinduism and Judaism.

Materials: Textbooks, reference material and notebooks

Activity; This is primarily a class to have students re-state already studied religious principles.


Students will form coopetrative groups of five each, having
six groups (adjust as needed).

Each group will be given one of three religions and asked to identify at least five major tenets or principles of that religion. They may use available materials as resources.

Each group will report back to the class on the tenets they
have developed.

The teacher will compose a chart on the board and ask a member of each group to write the principles for comparative

Evaluation: Students ability to brainstorm at least 5 principles
of Catholicism, Hinduism or Judaism.

Lesson Two

Instructional Objective: After a reading in their textbooks on the Moslem religion Islam, the students will describe the principle of the % Pillars of Islam in a short paragraph.

Materials: Textbook, reference materials, notes from class on the
principles of the religions: Catholicism, Hinduism, Judaism.

Activity: In a cooperative group setting the students will do silent reading aobut the Moslem faith.


After reading, the teacher will ask the students to identify the five major principles of Islam.

As a small group, the students will develop a list of principles of Islam.

The class will convene as a large group and identify the five Principles of Islam from the lists developed in the small

Evaluation: The students will describe the concept of the five (5) Pillars of Islam in a written paragraph.

Lesson Three

Instructional Objective: Students will compare and contrast the principles of Islam to the religion they discussed in the previous lessons by compiling a list of three similarities and differences.

Materials: Textbooks, notes, charts from lesson 1, other reference materials.

Activity: The teacher will place the students in cooperative groups.


The teacher will ask the students to recount the previous class on the five (5) Pillars of Islam.

The teacher will as them to retrieve their records on the
development of their own religion.

As a group the students will find and state similarities and differences between their religion and Islam.

As a group the students will develop a list and use these for
large class discussion.

As a large group the class will discuss the Islamic principles and the other religion principles they established.

Students will identify that their personal beliefs have more
similarities with the Moslem religion than differences.

Evaluation: Compilation of a list of three similarities and differences to the religion they established in relation to the religion of Islam.

Lesson Plan: Is Science a Religion?

Instructional Objective: At the end of this lesson students will demonstrate their knowledge of the principles of science by stating five (5) virtues that are common to science and religion, and five (5) virtues that are unique to science only. The common and unique virtues are listed below:

common unique

explanation, consolation, uplift verification, evidence,
cosmology and biology, inspiration scientific method, replication, modifiable

Materials: Reference materials, textbooks, www., class notes,
handout (Is Science a Religion by R. Dawkins, 1997 published in the Humanist).


Put students into small groups of 4/5.

List the common and unique terms listed above

Ask students to define the terms as they apply to science in
there lives and give one example of each from current events.
Rank the terms from most to least important to science.
Ask students to define the terms as they apply to religions in in their lives. Rank them from most to least important
to religion.

Analyze roles in the practice of scienc and the practice of
religion. Compare and contrast these roles in chart form.

Each group should arrive at consensus whether science is a
religion. Explain the reasons for the position.

Students will answer the following questions:

1. If science is a religion, what evidence supports that
2. If science is not a religion, what sets it apart from
religion to make it unique?
3. Why is it not applicable for science to be about faith and belief?
4. What happens to science when ethical or religious ques-
tions are raised in the public forum?
5. Can science and religion offer balance to each other's
doctrine? If so, how and if not, why not?

Evaluation: Students will compare and contrast the principles of science and religion and determine whether science is a religion based on common and unique virtues.

3) Lesson Plan: Riding Out the Shock Wave, Whose Life is Worth More???

The primary focus of the lesson will be the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasake knowing the destruction in the aftermath. Students will examine four differnent components of the opposing postions.

Instructional Objective: At the end of this lesson students will be able to write an opiniion paper of 500 words using primary source data from four of the five presented concerns to justify whether Truman's decision to drop atomic weapons on Japan.


Upon entry into the classroom, students will listen to Manhattan Project by Rush. After the song a brief brainstorming activity will occur to evoke the images presented in the lyrics.

Students will be asked to offer historic contemporary opinions on the necessity of the dropping of atomic wepons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On a word map or other graphic organizer, students will section off the following:

1. The United States Government
2. United States popular public opinion
3. Manhattan Project scientists
4. Japanese Society
5. Japanese military

Students will be placed into small groups of equal size and assigned to a center (each unique in nature) which will contain primary source documents such a diaries, journals, notes, memos, opinions of the Trinity Test, etc. At each center the students will be directed to read and take notes on their organizer which will be shared with the entire class.

At pre-timed intervals students will rotate through all the centers.

Upon completion of the last center, the groups will engage in a whole class conversation highlighting similarities and differences between the five categories which can be represented on the board or overhead.

Summary question: After reading the perspectives of all involved, has your opinion of the bombings of August 6th and 9th, 1945 changed? If not why and if so how?

Assessment: In an opinion paper, designed in an editorial format, you are to present your validated view as to whether or not Truman was justified in his descision to drop atomic weapons on Japan.
You should include material from at least four of the five above read categories to substantiate your answer. This paper should not be less than 500 words and folow proper grammatical rules.

Science Lesson Plan: Little Boy, the only Uranium based bomb ever exploded!

Instructional Objective: At the end of this lesson students will draw the components of the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan, named Little Boy. The students will also diagram the nuclear reaction to include the fissionable reactants and products. These will be used to develop a learning center for the classroom.

Materials: Show selected portions of the 1989 movie, Little Boy and Fat Man, starring Paul Newman, textbook, www., The Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Assoc. handout, various other handouts


Allow students to go to the library or media center and collect various scientific information on the construction of the Manhattan Project. They should include in their materials various diagrams of the bomb itself and the chemical chain reaction of Uranium 238 that was used in making the bomb.

Put students into small groups of three or four to share their research materials. Provide other materials where appropriate.

After sharing their materials the groups should make a chart
for the design of the bomb and the chemical equation of the
nuclear process.

The small groups will come together to the larger class and present their charts, diagrams and chemical equations. Within their presentation there should be evidence why Uranium was not used further as an energy source.

Students should discuss the ethics of the "dirty bomb" and whether it should have been dropped on two Japanese cities.

Students will write a position paper on the bomb as to its
efficiency, environmental impact and ethics. To be graded
by the teacher's rubric.

All materials will be used to build a learning center on the
atomic bomb and its "physics".

Evaluation: Students will demonstate their knowledge of the chemistry of a nuclear reaction using Uranium 238 in Little Boy, write a position paper, and create materials to be used in developing a learning center on the Manhattan Project.