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Asking Real-World Questions with Inquiry-Based Labs

Dale, Daniel
Kloster, Dylan
Sutter, Jessica
We have developed and employed a set of inquiry-based labs built around engaging “real-world” scenarios for our studio-style introductory Physics II course. In real-world situations, there is more than one path to success and step-by-step instructions are not provided. For this reason, the primary goal for these labs is to provide students with the freedom to develop collaborative solutions to open-ended challenges, where creativity and independent thought are encouraged. This approach is more akin to what they will encounter in the academic or industrial lab settings. The main challenges facing the students are developing the experimental plan and writing an in-depth lab report; in the end, the necessary measurements typically require only 5-10 minutes. The primary challenge to the instructor(s) is providing just enough guidance to keep students on the path to a feasible plan without giving away the solution. Student feedback has been very positive and we have made these labs freely available to our students and the larger physics community. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and AIP Publishing. This article appeared in The Physics Teacher 57, 547-550 (2019) and may be found at https://doi.org/10.1119/1.5131122
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AIP Publishing