8 Fun Inquiry-Based Learning Activities

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team

When you’re finished delivering your lesson and ask students if they have any questions, there are times when students have no doubt at all. This concludes whether the students have understood everything or nothing. The reason behind such scenarios is the very little involvement of the students in learning. The whole lesson is only led by teachers which sometimes makes it boring and dull due to which students easily lose interest and find it difficult to pay attention to it throughout.

To overcome such challenges and captivate students’ attention, inquiry-based learning[1] has proven to be effective and yield greater results than traditional teaching methods. Inquiry-based learning (IBL) empowers learners to become active participants in their own education, take ownership of their learning, and discover new things about the world around them. Traditional learning, on the other hand, can feel like walking down a predetermined path, with little room for deviation or exploration.

Moreover, it is analyzed[2] that indulging students in inquiry-based learning activities helps them improve their inquiry skills which include identifying relationships, reasoning skills, using data as evidence, and evaluating explanations. Taking this into consideration, in this blog post, we’ve compiled a series of inquiry-based learning activities below to incorporate in the classroom and transform the whole environment into interactive learning sessions.

Engaging students through inquiry: Activities for inquiry-based learning

Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) activities are student-centered approaches that encourage students to ask questions, gather information, and develop deeper understanding through exploration and investigation. In this list, we explore various IBL activities that can be implemented in the classroom.

1. Mystery Box

Can you identify an object without actually seeing it? Sounds confusing, right? Well, this activity will get your observation skills and critical thinking skills to exercise to solve a puzzle. Do you think you can figure out what’s inside the box? Let’s find out!

Mystery Box


  • Set up the Mystery Box. Place an object inside a box and cover the box with a cloth. Ensure that the object is not immediately identifiable.
  • Present the Mystery Box to the class and explain that they have to identify the object inside by asking questions and making observations.
  • Students can not see the object but can use their other senses to observe and assess
  • Encourage them to ask open-ended questions to find what’s in the box
  • Students can share their observations and theories about what the object is. The teacher can guide the discussion toward scientific inquiry skills by encouraging students to develop hypotheses and test them.

2. Design Challenge

This challenging activity will get you to work in teams to solve a problem through trial and error. Are you ready to put your creativity and problem-solving skills to the test?

 Design Challenge


  • Present the design challenge to the class. For example, ask them to design a bridge that can hold a certain amount of weight or a structure that can withstand an earthquake.
  • Students work in teams to brainstorm and come up with design ideas for the challenge. They can draw sketches or use digital tools to create prototypes.
  • Once the designs are complete, students can test them to see if they work. Encourage them to test and refine their prototypes through trial and error until they have a successful solution.
  • Once the designs are complete, have each team present their solution to the class. Encourage students to ask questions to their friends about their design. This will give students the opportunity to practice their communication and presentation skills.

3. Debate

Engaging in debate activity requires the participant to be ready with the facts, evidence, and strong points for or against the topic which calls for good research skills, critical thinking skills, and communication skills. This activity is all about indulging in the same.



  • Provide a list of controversial issues, or students can choose their own. For example, the debate can be on topics like climate change, or school dress codes.
  • Students work individually or in teams to research the issue and develop arguments for and against the position they support.
  • Assign roles, such as pros or cons, or students can choose their own. Students need to then research the topic and prepare their points in order to engage in a debate with their classmates, using evidence to support their positions and responding to counterarguments.
  • After the debate, students can reflect on what they learned and evaluate their performance. This will give students the opportunity to practice their critical thinking and self-assessment skills.

4. Historical Investigation

This activity will take students to history where they will research a historical event or figure and develop a deeper understanding of its context and significance. Are you ready to explore history through a process of inquiry?

Historical Investigation


  • Provide a list of events or figures yourself, or students can choose their own. For example, students can investigate topics like the American Civil War, the Renaissance, or Rosa Parks.
  • Instruct students to use primary and secondary sources to research the historical event or figure. They can use books, articles, and online resources to gather information.
  • Encourage students to inquire about the same and gather multiple opinions of people around them like their neighbors, grandparents, parents, etc.
  • After gathering information, students can analyze the context and significance of the event. 
  • Ask them to present their findings to the class and ask other students to reflect on that finding by asking questions or adding any information about the point they have.

5. Environmental Study

In this problem-solving activity, students will become environmental scientists and investigate real-world environmental issues, such as pollution or deforestation. They will analyze the causes and effects of the issue and develop and implement solutions to help address the problem.

 Environmental Study


  • Introduce the environmental issue and provide some background information to help students understand the problem. Students can then work in groups to research the issue further, using a variety of sources such as scientific articles, news reports, and government websites.
  • Once students have a deeper understanding of the issue, they can analyze the causes and effects of the problem, using scientific inquiry skills to develop hypotheses and test them. For example, students may investigate the causes of pollution in a particular area, and test the hypothesis that it is caused by industrial activity.
  • Next, students can work in groups to develop and implement solutions to address the issue. This may involve designing a recycling program, advocating for policy changes, or organizing a community clean-up event. Students can then present their findings and solutions to the class, and discuss the potential impact of their actions.
  • Overall, this activity encourages students to take an active role in addressing real-world environmental issues, while also developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

6. Socratic Seminar

This activity is based on a Socratic method in which students will be engaged in a structured discussion to explore diverse perspectives and develop critical thinking skills. In a Socratic Seminar, students take an active role in their learning by asking and responding to open-ended questions about a text, issue, or topic. Through this inquiry-based strategy, students deepen their understanding and enhance their communication and reasoning skills.

Socratic Seminar
  • Begin by selecting a text, issue, or topic that is relevant to the curriculum and student interests. 
  • Students should be provided with the text or materials beforehand, and instructed to read or review it thoroughly in preparation for the seminar. 
  • During the seminar, the teacher should encourage students to share their observations and questions and to respond thoughtfully to their peers’ contributions. 
  • The teacher can also provide prompts or guiding questions to stimulate discussion and encourage critical thinking. Finally, the teacher should debrief with the class after the seminar to reflect on the process and evaluate its effectiveness.

7. Inquiry Journals

Imagine your students engaged in a process of self-discovery, as they explore a topic of their choice and document their observations, questions, and reflections in a personal journal. In an Inquiry Journal, students use inquiry-based strategies to investigate a topic and develop a deeper understanding.

 Inquiry Journals
  • Provide guidelines for students to choose a topic of their interest and create a journal to document their learning journey. 
  • Encourage students to use inquiry-based strategies such as generating hypotheses, researching information, conducting experiments, and reflecting on their learning. 
  • You can also provide prompts or guiding questions to stimulate inquiry and reflection. 
  • Regularly review and provide feedback on students’ journals, and encourage them to share their insights and learning with the class.

8. Case Study Analysis

This activity will engage students in examining real-world scenarios or case studies as detectives to develop their analytical skills and problem-solving abilities. In this activity, students will examine multiple perspectives and potential solutions for the same.

Case Study Analysis
  • Provide students with a relevant and engaging case study or scenario, and guide them to analyze the data and information presented. 
  • Students should be encouraged to identify different perspectives, evaluate the evidence, and develop conclusions and recommendations. 
  • Then, facilitate discussions and provide prompts or guiding questions to stimulate inquiry and critical thinking. 
  • Finally, students should present their findings and recommendations to the class, and engage in a discussion to evaluate the effectiveness of their analysis.


Inquiry-based learning encourages students to explore and learn. Unlike the traditional method where teachers provide everything from notes to explanations of concepts, inquiry-based learning lets students take responsibility for their own learning.

Activities given above engage students in critical thinking and problem-solving which help them understand things on their own. By incorporating inquiry-based strategies into the classroom, teachers can create a dynamic and engaging learning environment that promotes student growth and achievement.


  1. Abdi, A. A. (2014). The Effect of Inquiry-based Learning Method on Students’ Academic Achievement in Science Course. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 2(1), 37–41. https://doi.org/10.13189/ujer.2014.020104
  2. Hsin‐Kai Wu & Chou‐En Hsieh (2006) Developing Sixth Graders’ Inquiry Skills to Construct Explanations in Inquiry‐based Learning Environments, International Journal of Science Education, 28:11, 1289-1313, DOI: 10.1080/09500690600621035

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