Teaching to the Moon and Back – Exemplary Science Teaching

Class of zoo animals staring at a presentation with no interest.

Why it is necessary to bring wonder, imagination, and inquiry back to the classrooms!

For centuries, we have been teaching with basically the same methods. The only changes have been technological advances. We now have presentations of information via PowerPoint or google slides. The students expect this style of teaching.

They are treated like empty vessels who come to school to be filled with knowledge without getting their hands on actual education.

Imagine what would be possible if we prioritized Wonder, Imagination, and Inquiry instead of our schedules or PowerPoint.

As an exemplary science teacher, you have the power to change the narrative. Make your classroom an exciting place where students are allowed to take control of their learning.

Would you enjoy your class?

Thinking back to my k-12 experience I never had those memorable moments when my teachers were using guided notes or presentations. The classes I remember had exciting activities where I got to make decisions and was able to think through the activities. No two students learn the same, therefore, if we only teach the class in one way then those students are going to be checked out during your class.

Exemplary teachers use their standards as guidelines to create activities that allow their students to explore the topics with their minds. When making lesson plans, seating charts, projects, or assignments they keep the student’s interests in mind.

In the article Learner Interest Matters: Strategies for Empowering Student Choice, John McCarthy discusses how allowing students to express their interests and have a voice in their learning can:

  • Promoting self-directed learning
  • Empower students’ voices
  • Create personalized learning products
  • Improves motivation and interest in the classroom.


Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of the imagination.

—John Dewey, The Quest For Certainty

The dreaded Why?

Every teacher dreads hearing that question; why do I need to know this? When a student asks this they are genuinely not interested in the subject and don’t see a real reason for spending time in your class. To combat this question switch the student positions.

Create a lesson plan that allows them to be teachers for a day.

  • Groups of 3-4 have to create an interactive experience for their classmates based on the topics covered in class.
  • As they present their ideas they can’t depend on PowerPoint or google slides.
  • This can be adjusted for any age and any topic.

  • Student teaching activities are beneficial because they
    • students will always reach their peers in ways we never could
    • build the students’ confidence in public speaking
    • Enforce ideas learned in class.
    • Allows creativity and builds leadership skills

Invoking Inquiry

When we want our electronics to be able to complete new tasks we upload the software to do so. Why do we assume students learn the same way? Students are not empty software waiting for the newest upgrade. Students have the minds to think critically. Teaching with the Inquiry mindset allows students to dig deep into questions and discover the answers on their own.

Some inquiry-based activities

  • Brain-buster questions (Students can ask yes or no questions until they discover the correct answer to the riddle)
  • Student-led activities
  • Teaching in the margins when possible
  • Giving students choices in an assignment

For more information about Student-Centered Learning:

TLDR (To Long Didn’t Read)

Too much reading? Here are the main components.

  • Would you enjoy your class?
    • Students need to be interested in the work they do. If you can include their interests in the assignments or allow them to personalize the work they do, they will be more engaged and motivated to do well
  • The dreaded Why?
    • Allow students to choose their learning methods. This can be accomplished by giving the teacher for the day activity where each group gets to be the teacher and has to create and teach an interactive activity for their classmates.
  • Invoking Inquiry
    • Students do not learn the same way and they should not be expected to download new information like a computer. Allowing critical thinking and self-discovery creates life-long learners who do not just download ideas from others but build their own opinions based on facts.
    • Classrooms that are student-centered leach individualism, the value of one’s voice, and critical thinking skills.


  1. Hi Ms. Smith! I really liked how you set up this post, it flowed really well and was very inviting to look at! (I also laughed at the TLDR section, it was helpful to see a summary at the end!) I also liked that you asked the question “would you enjoy your class?”. Another important part of your post was inquiry based learning. You explained it really well and your examples are easy to implement! How would you form a seating chart with the student’s learning in mind? Would you focus on flexibility or forming stable groups? Great post!

  2. WOW! The process of allowing your students to teach their peers not only pushes individuality, but it promotes the love of science. I agree that my high school courses were not memorable when it was worksheets and common core. It is even possible for the teacher to learn something new from inspired students. Great work, love the graphics and how you incorporated an outside journal.

  3. Hi Ms. Smith!
    You have some great ideas about how to give your students the floor and allow them to teach their peers. I really like your inquiry-based activities. I also love how you included a TL;DR in this post to summarize all your points.

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