College of Science and Engineering
Outreach

Inquiry in the Community

  • Inquiry in the Community (IC) helps youth-serving organizations engage in high-quality science programming. We provide free planning tools, professional development curriculum, and activities; you provide the know-how and energy to use them in your own program. And, while your staff and volunteers are learning how to lead science activities, you'll find that they're also learning skills to deliver high-quality youth program, no matter the topic.

    We provide…

    • Planning tools that help you customize our curriculum, activities, and resources for your program.
    • Professional development curriculum that equips both front-line and support staff and volunteers to lead inquiry-based science activities, and improves their youth management skills.
    • Activities your staff and volunteers can conduct with youth.
    • Tip sheets, checklists, best practices, and more – tools that help your staff and volunteers apply what they've learned to your program.

    The resources on this website were created by Girl Scouts of Western Washington and Seattle University with funding from National Science Foundation under awards DRL-0813455 and DRL-0813464, and are freely available for use and adaptation. Please attribute Inquiry in the Community, http://www.seattleu.edu/scieng/inquiry.

    Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

    Overview

    Inquiry in the Community (IC) uses inquiry-based science to teach youth development volunteers and staff how to lead high-quality activities with kids. Over the past five years, we have worked with hundreds of staff and volunteers in four very different Girl Scout councils. Councils gain several benefits by implementing our tools. First, their volunteers and staff learn how to confidently lead science activities. At the same time, these adults learn how to create quality experiences for girls in Girl Scouts…no matter the topic. Girls practice important science and critical thinking skills, and experience the power of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. It's a win-win-win.

    Why inquiry-based science? It teaches practices that are at the heart of Girl Scouting. Inquiry science encourages youth to make meaningful decisions, do hands-on activities, engage in cycles of planning, action, and reflection, and work together. In short, inquiry science relies on three foundational elements of Girl Scouts: what we now call "girl-led," "learning by doing," and "cooperative learning." Unfortunately, these three processes are also some of the hardest skills for Girl Scout volunteers to learn and put into practice.

    To give their volunteers (and staff) these needed skills, councils integrate our adult curriculum, activities, and resources into their everyday functions. But we don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. With Inquiry in the Community, you are in the driver's seat: you decide the best way to use our tools in your council.

    We provide planning tools and checklists that help you decide how to implement our materials in your council. We encourage councils to first facilitate the adult curricula with some or all of their membership, volunteerism, and program staff. Then, these staff members can participate in the planning process; they identify which tools fit, where, and what the timeline will be. Often, they find that our curricula and tools help them meet goals they already had – like teaching volunteers how to make activities "girl-led," or communicating the power of Girl Scouts to potential community partners and volunteers.

    Read on for stories showing how Girl Scout councils have implemented Inquiry in the Community.

    Listen to Stephanie talk about the project on NWP Radio (her interview begins @ 25:20).

    Want to see what this looks like outside of Girl Scouts?