Inquiry into Light and Sound

Using mind maps to guide their thinking, the Magical Minds worked independently and with a partner to use their schema to brainstorm what they already know about light and sound.  Together we grouped ideas together and created a larger mind-map to show our collective schema.  Throughout the unit we will continue to add new understandings and new groupings on our online mind map at

Once we had our brains warmed up, I introduced the Magical Minds to our Central Idea:

People understand light and sound through investigations

In order to better understand the central idea of the unit, I took the Magical Minds on an online journey to learn more about the word “investigation.”

We began with, an online visual thesaurus. Here we discovered that an investigation is like research, experiment and inquiry.

Next, we used Merriam-Webster’s to look up a kid-friendly definition.  According to, investigate means, “to study by close examination and systematic inquiry.”  I was particularly impressed by the inclusion of  a history behind the word:

The Latin word vestigium meant “footprint, track.” Joined with the prefix in-, the nounvestigium gave rise to the verb investigare. This word meant both “to track or trace by footprints” and “to study or examine closely.”

Finally, our investigation into the word “investigation” ended on a visual search through Google images.  In this way, the children connect their new word with their schema (background knowledge).  Everyone knew what a magnifying glass was, and now they can associate that image with this new concept.


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