Inquiry tools

What is an inquiry tool?

An inquiry tool is a piece of media that explicitly targets inquiry skills building. Ocean School is designed to facilitate and build inquiry skills, such as asking great questions. Each of the inquiry tools has an accompanying educator guide with a lesson plan.

The development of these tools is ongoing. If you have ideas for an inquiry tool, or ways to improve existing tools, guides and lessons, we welcome feedback.

Inquiry based learning

Inquiry based learning (IBL) encourages students to take the lead in their learning experience. Posing their own questions and gathering evidence, learners practice the skills they need to participate in knowledge creation. On the Ocean School platform, the media experiences are designed to support open-ended investigations into a question or a problem. Students and educators share responsibility for identifying problems that students can investigate further. Together, they engage in critical thinking, collection and analysis of evidence, logical reasoning, and creative problem-solving.

For more information, read Inquiry based learning.

Inquiry and Indigenous perspectives

Included in our tools are pieces of media to help educators begin to address Indigenous perspectives in the classroom.

An important part of developing critical literacy and critical thinking is to explore the diverse points of view, values, and ways of knowing arising from different cultural perspectives (OECD, 2018). Presenting social and scientific issues in ways that incorporate Indigenous perspectives provides context and opportunities to examine issues of voice and point of view, and support learners’ development into critically thoughtful and informed citizens (Horton, 2017).

These pieces were created with Indigenous artists, elders, producers, creators, and educators. These inquiry tools are meant as starting points. We caution that Indigenous perspectives cannot be deeply reflected in a piece of media or written document or outside their cultural contexts.

When using these inquiry tools we encourage educators to follow these suggestions from the authors of Natural Curiosity:

  • Work whenever possible with Indigenous resource people

  • Be up-front about what we do and don't know

  • Be clear that Indigenous people, cultures and knowledge are contemporary

  • Respect Indigenous knowledge as a precious heritage

  • Be aware of the complexities of real Indigenous people

We strongly recommend you consult our Indigenous perspectives and content guide, as well as the book Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children's Environmental Inquiry for support (

Where are the inquiry tools?

On Ocean School, the inquiry tools can be accessed at any time from the inquiry tools “hotpoint,” marked by a flag. Each inquiry tool has an educator guide and lesson that you can access in the Help Centre. Below we have provided a summary of the tools and links to the educator guides for each.

When should I use them?

The needs of each class are unique. Students may choose to check out the inquiry tools at any time. However, we recommend that educators conduct the suggested lessons in the educator’s guides to get the most out of the inquiry tools.

Inquiry tools

Put the "quest" in questions

How can you ask the most powerful questions, in order to unlock an even wider universe of knowledge? And why is the choosing of a simple word (like "How" or "Why") the key to your greatest quest and your greatest question?

Read the Put the "quest" in questions lesson


This animation is a history of cod, as inspired by Mi’kmaw storytelling tradition. Little Fish inherits the history of her species from the tales of her Grandmother: from creation, through thousands of years of “Netukulimk” (harmony with nature), to modern industrial devastation. As Little Fish becomes a Grandmother herself, she continues this oral tradition with a renewed hope for the future… and for the return of “Netukulimk”.

Read the Netukulimk lesson

Critical reflection

Critical reflection is where it all comes together in three smart steps!

  1. You’ve assembled your facts.

  2. You’ve made sense of those new facts, cracking their code!

  3. You’re ready to turn your brand-new knowledge into powerful action.

By repeating these three steps, you’ve harnessed the power of critical reflection… and you’re ready to take on the world!

Read the Critical reflection lesson