Document Type


Publication Date



There has been a strong belief within the science education community since the 1950s that science education ought to involve students in inquiry processes endemic to scientific practice as opposed to just learning the facts of science. This belief is reflected in the emphasis given to 'science as inquiry' in the National Science Education Standards document (NRC, 1996) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993). In spite of this commitment to inquiry in standards documents, it has been reported that students who have completed both a high school qualification and an undergraduate degree may not have experienced such inquiry-based science. That is, pre-service teachers are unlikely to have experienced either inquiry methods of teaching and learning or the discipline of science as inquiry in their own science education. In this paper the discipline of science as inquiry is the focus and an account is given of how a traditional laboratory exercise for the preparation of tin (IV) oxide was converted to an inquiry-based laboratory exercise through the use of historical material form the 19th century and through a focus on the status of the guiding principles and assumptions behind the determination of chemical composition. [Author abstract]


Originally published as: de Berg, Kevin C. (2009). Towards enhancing science as inquiry: A case study from inorganic chemistry. Australian Journal of Education in Chemistry (70), 23-30.