2018 Geo-Inquiry Summer Institute
In June 2018, 16 middle school teachers from across Montana gathered at the Flathead Lake Biological Station to participate in a 3-day Geo-Inquiry Workshop. The Geo-Inquiry Process, developed by National Geographic, relies on using a geographic perspective, offering a unique lens to analyze space, place, and the interconnections between both the human and natural world. The Geo-Inquiry Process is interdisciplinary and promotes collaboration between teachers of different subjects and does not necessarily mean it can only be used in geography courses. Science, art, math, graphic design, history, and English can all be tied into a Geo-Inquiry project.
Geo-Inquiry is a student-driven 5-step process that serves as a framework to analyze local issues. The five phases are ASK-COLLECT-VISUALIZE-CREATE-ACT. In Phase 1, Ask, students develop a Geo-Inqiury question by focusing on three guiding questions: Where is it? Why is it there? Why care? In Phase 2, Collect, students go out into the field to collect data. In Phase 3, Visualize, students organize their data and create visuals including maps and figures to reveal patterns and aid in analysis. In Phase 4, Create, students create a Geo-Inquiry Story to effectively communicate their findings. Lastly, in Phase 5, students use their stories to take action towards solving the issue they identifies in their Geo-Inquiry question. This last step makes the Geo-Inquiry Process unique in that it allows students to follow through on their project, reflect on their findings, and influence change within their community.