Passion for Inquiry... with Lisa Detloff

Passion for Inquiry provides exemplary hands-on science programs and curriculum development
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Curriculum Development

World Wide Telescope

World Wide Telescope is a virtual astronomy tool that offers the ability to interactively browse through a vast database of astronomy imagery data in multiple wavelengths and create interactive tours and animated presentations.

As a consultant for Microsoft’s Next Media Research Lab, Lisa developed a set of tools for educators, including tutorial tours of the software, an educators’ guide and sample curriculum. She presented her work at the American Astronomical Society conference and the National Science Teachers Association. She also wrote an article for The Earth Scientist magazine, describing how to do inquiry-based science with children using WWT.

Developing educators’ tools for World Wide Telescope drew on Lisa’s passion for cosmology (the emphasis in her physics studies at UC Berkeley) and on her long experience as a planetarium educator. In the early years as a science educator, she spent countless hours presenting and developing participatory planetarium shows in Lawrence Hall of Science’s for their small planetarium.

To get a free download of World Wide Telescope, go to:       
(World Wide Telescope requires Windows operating system)

World Wide Telescope also has a web-based version with fewer features. You can use the web version at

Lisa’s tour can be viewed at by clicking on Guided Tours and Learning WWT.

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The Green Building Challenge

As part of the Nueva School’s LEED gold award from the US Green Building Council, Lisa developed the Green Building Challenge.

The Green Building Challenge, a design-based unit, utilizes an exciting scenario and an intriguing problem. Students envision a scenario where their family is building a new home in a town where green building practices are universally mandated. Their challenge is to use their study of the green features of The Nueva School’s green buildings to design a green home for their family and teach their parents about green building practices. To respond to the green building challenge they are faced with, students follow a problem-solving process: analyze the situation, determine what information they need in order to come up with solutions and then to find that information in many ways. In addition to Internet research, measurements and calculations on the green buildings at Nueva, students perform experiments in order to support their process as they envision and evaluate solutions to the problem. Finally, students go through a design process to apply what they have learned to a real-world problem. In the culminating Green Building Fair, they sharpen their presentation skills as they educate their community about green building.

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The Climate Project

Selected as a presenter for Al Gore’s Climate Project in 2007, Lisa was personally trained by Al Gore to present his material on Climate Change as a volunteer. Her free presentations to schools, community groups and educational institutions have inspired thousands of youth.

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Educational Philosophy

Passion For Inquiry’s custom-designed science workshops enrich the scientific expertise and passion in elementary and middle school children through dynamic, exciting activities guided by thoughtful questions. The process is guided by the science practices in the new National Science Framework.

The workshops are lively, fun and carefully designed to provide the excitement, deep comprehension of science content, and the scientific thinking skills that children need to flourish in science. Through a sequence of dynamic science explorations, the children reach their own conclusions on science content. Research has shown this method of learning produces much higher retention and deeper comprehension. Key science process skills are built into the activities and explicitly described in the provided lesson plans. With students, we refine concepts after exploration and discovery, providing a deeper comprehension of the material than when students are simply told something. These insights always lead to new questions, an opportunity for further exploration. Children learn how to answer their own questions by doing experiments of their own design, using the Cycle of Inquiry.



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