Use anything that deals with your topic, involves many senses, lets students work, and, of course, is safe.
Scenario: Imagine that you are beginning a unit on solid geometry. Here are some inquiry experiences you can use to kick off the unit:
- In your classroom: Pass out toothpicks and playdough and ask students to use them to form triangles, squares, and other polygons. Students should roll pinches of playdough into little balls and insert toothpicks to connect the balls at various angles. After they have been working with plane geometry awhile, challenge them to combine some of their figures into three-dimensional shapes—or solids. Let students experiment to find regular and irregular solid shapes.
- In the media center: Have students experiment with a computer-aided design program such as Google SketchUp to create geometric solids with regular polygons as sides.
- In your school: Take students to a large and architecturally interesting place (the gym, the theater, the foyer) and have them search for and sketch any geometric solids they can find (for example acoustic tiles, fluorescent lights, bricks).
- In your community: Take students to a local hobby game store and show them the different types of dice (dice with 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20, and 100 sides). Let them play with the dice and sketch them.
- On a field trip: Take students to a greenhouse or glass-domed building and have them photograph as many different geometric forms as they can find in the structure. Then have students upload their photos into a photo manipulator and change the shapes.