Piper's lesson plan construction is based on the 5E instructional model. If this is your first time teaching with this model, you will find it to be different than traditional teaching methods. It is rewarding to see student-centered learning in action and this model has been proven to lead towards greater student engagement and enduring understanding in STEAM.

“Each phase has a specific function and contributes to the teacher’s coherent instruction and the students’ formulating a better understanding of scientific and technological knowledge, attitudes, and skills. The model has been used to help frame the sequence and organization of programs, units, and lessons. Once internalized, it also can inform the many instantaneous decisions science teachers must make in classroom situations.” (The BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Origins, Effectiveness, and Applications, Bybee, 2006).


Understanding the 5E Instructional Model for STEAM Inquiry:





Shows interest in the topic. Asks questions such as:

  • Why did this happen?
  • What do I already know about this?
  • What can I find out about this?
  • How can I solve this problem?

Creates interest. Generates curiosity. Raises questions and problems. Activates prior knowledge. Elicits responses that uncover student knowledge about the concept/topic.


Thinks creatively within the limits of the activity. Conducts hands-on activities or experiments. Tests predictions and hypotheses. Forms new predictions and hypotheses. Tries alternatives to solve a problem and discusses them with others. Records observations and ideas. Suspends judgment. Tests idea.

Encourages students to work together without direct instruction from the teacher. Provides materials and sets up hands-on activities or experiments. Observes and listens to students as they interact. Asks probing questions to redirect students' investigations when necessary. Provides time for students to puzzle through problems. Acts as a consultant.


Explains their thinking, ideas and possible solutions or answers to other students. Listens critically to other students' explanations. Questions other students' explanations. Listens to and tries to comprehend explanations offered by the teacher. Refers to previous activities. Uses recorded data in explanations.

Encourages students to explain concepts and definitions in their own words. Asks for justification (evidence) and clarification from students. Formally provides definitions, explanations, and new vocabulary. Uses students' previous experiences as the basis for explaining concepts.


Applies scientific concepts, labels, definitions, explanations, and skills in new, but similar situations. Uses previous information to ask questions, propose solutions, make decisions, design experiments. Draws reasonable conclusions from evidence. Records observations and explanations.

Expects students to use vocabulary, definitions, and explanations provided previously in new context. Encourages students to apply the concepts and skills in new situations. Reminds students of alternative explanations. Refers students to alternative explanations.


Checks for understanding among peers. Answers open-ended questions by using observations, evidence, and previously accepted explanations. Demonstrates an understanding or knowledge of the concept or skill. Evaluates his or her own progress and knowledge. Asks related questions that would encourage future investigations.

Refers students to existing data and evidence and asks, What do you know? Why do you think...? Observes students as they apply new concepts and skills. Assesses students' knowledge and/or skills. Looks for evidence that students have changed their thinking. Allows students to assess their learning and group process skills. Asks open-ended questions such as, Why do you think...? What evidence do you have? What do you know about the problem? How would you answer the question?