Learning through inquiry tools

Science inquiry involves the use of a variety of pedagogical tools to engage students as they question and predict; plan and conduct; process, model, and analyse; evaluate, and communicate their understanding of the science.

As one of the three strands in the Australian Curriculum Science, Science Inquiry involves students questioning and generating ideas that can become predictions and hypotheses that can be investigated. The investigations can take many forms depending on the age and stage of the students, including experimental testing, fieldwork, modelling, and simulations. Each of these requires students to select and plan the most appropriate approach, collect and analyse the data, and evaluate and communicate evidence-based claims.

Select the Pedagogical tool that is most appropriate for your students and the investigation they will be completing.

Using graphing to support development of Science Inquiry Skills

A graph is a representation; it represents and summarises information so that patterns and relationships can be identified. Understanding the conventions of constructing and using graphs is an important aspect of scientific literacy.

Using word loops to support scientific literacy

A word loop is a tool that helps students to clarify the relationship between words and terms, symbols, representations and definitions and how these contribute to a whole topic or concept.

Using a word wall to support student explanations

Support student development of vocabulary related to a particular topic, and provide a reference for class discussions.

Using a TWLH chart to document inquiry

Primary Connections has developed an adaptation of the KWL chart. A TWLH chart is a learning tool used to elicit students’ prior knowledge by asking what students Think they know, determine questions students Want to know answers to, document what has been Learned, and How students know they’ve learned.

Using a science journal throughout inquiry

A science journal is a record of observations, experiences and reflections. It contains a series of dated, chronological entries. It can include written text, drawings, measurements, labelled diagrams, photographs, tables and graphs.

Using a glossary to support science vocabulary development

Create a class glossary as a growing bank of descriptions to support students to understand and use new vocabulary.

Using a design portfolio throughout science inquiry

A design portfolio is a record of observations, experiences and reflections that provides evidence of the design process and insights of design thinking. It might include a series of dated entries, written text, drawings, sketches, labelled diagrams, graphic designs, photographs, tables and graphs. It includes the design brief and information to assist students to develop design criteria and to evaluate products.

Supporting students to write questions for investigation

Scientific inquiry and investigation are focused on and driven by questions.

Facilitating evidence-based discussions

Argumentation is at the heart of what scientists do: they pose questions, make claims, collect evidence, debate with other scientists and compare their ideas with others in the field.

Facilitating collaborative learning

Students working in collaborative teams is a key principle of the Primary Connections approach.

Conducting fair test investigations

Scientific investigations involve posing questions, testing predictions, collecting and interpreting evidence and, drawing conclusions and communicating findings. When scientists plan and conduct a fair test investigation it is to answer a question or test a prediction. Students emulate this in the classroom as they continue to develop their science inquiry skills.


PROE is a tool to engage students in the investigative process and support deep thinking.

Providing formative feedback

Formative feedback is a tool that supports student development of high-quality science literacy representations and guides student learning.


CROWN is an argumentation tool. It supports students to communicate plans for, and critical evaluation of, designed solutions that meet present or future needs.

Investigation planner

An investigation planner is a scaffold that supports students to plan, conduct, record and represent data and information.

Differentiation, feedback and moderation

Assessing and responding to students' learning needs is the core business of teaching. Read our Dos and Don'ts for differentiation, feedback and moderation.

Gallery walk

A gallery walk is a collaborative discussion strategy that provides an opportunity for feedback: student to student, and teacher to student.

Cultivating a questioning culture

Students’ questions can be expressions of their existing knowledge, reasoning, assumptions, doubts, curiosity and wonder, and interest and motivation to learn. 

Mystery box

The mystery box activity is designed to support student’s understanding of how scientists base their conclusions on available evidence in the form of observations. 

Representing in science

Learning science involves understanding how to interpret and use multimodal representations of phenomena: diagrams, 3D models, photographs, tables and graphs, and chemical or mathematical equations. 

The Q-Matrix

The Q-matrix presents a series of question stems that can be used to generate useful questions. 

Question Formulation Technique

The Question Formulation Technique outlines four steps for students to generate, refine, and select useful questions.