The other day a co-worker of mine and I were digging some horse manure into a wheelbarrow (teaching is a great job). He found a massive beetle larva.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="223" caption="Not exactly like this, but very similar"][/caption]
He took it back to class and showed his kids. They fell in love, and before he knew it he had an aquarium full of them, books about beetles, charcoal to kill the smell, spray bottles to keep the soil moist, and a host of other paraphernalia related to the care and raising of beetles.
[caption id="attachment_1058" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The Beetle Station"][/caption]
Kids are constantly giving advice, taking ownership of the care, and showing great curiosity at what will become of the beetles. Oh, I forgot to mention the best part! He (and I as well) have no idea what these larva will turn into to! I am secretly hoping for Dragons, but it will more than likely be some kind of beetle. Their current unit is all about plants, so the link between this and the unit is there, but that is not important. What is important is he, as a co-inquirer in the learning environment, saw something that made him curious and acted on it. He knew this would light a fire under the class. That action has created a positive feedback loop that is amplifying through-out the system and growing. When ideas like this grow, we may never know where they end up, but that is the beauty of life and learning.
Beetles are a wonderful metaphor for inquiry learning.