The ISP (Inquiry-based Science Project) Tutor is a free tutor that will allow students to conduct science inquiry for a research question of their choosing.

This tutor is an extension of the TED Tutor, an adaptive computer-based tutor that supports late-elementary and middle school students' learning of experimental design.

The ISP Tutor currently includes support for students: selecting research questions; developing hypotheses; conducting background research; designing controlled experiments for their research questions.

We are working on modules to support students in: interpreting experimental outcomes; drawing conclusions; creating science fair posters summarizing the project.

By the end of this project, the ISP Tutor will support the full range of activities involved in conducting experiment-based science inquiry (e.g., science fair experiments).

The ISP (Inquiry-based Science Project) Tutor Project is funded by a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES grant R305A170176) to Carnegie Mellon University Psychology Professor David Klahr (PI) and Dr. Stephanie Siler (Co-PI).

Diagram of the ISP Tutor Components

By the end of this project, the ISP Tutor will support the full range of activities involved in conducting experiment-based science inquiry projects (e.g., science fair experiments).

Each module of the ISP Tutor focuses on a specific area of designing and running science experiments.

Arrows show the general progression through the tutor, but students will be able to move around in the tutor--including to previous sections to revise their responses.

Students who show difficulties designing controlled experiments will get targeted TED instruction (#7 of diagram).

Students who show difficulties interpreting data will receive targeted instruction (#9.5).

How does the ISP Tutor align with Next Generation and PA Science Standards?

Instruction in the ISP Tutor aligns with NGSS’s Science and Engineering Practices of Planning & Carrying Out Investigations:

• Plan an investigation individually and collaboratively, and in the design: identify independent and dependent variables and controls, what tools are needed to do the gathering, how measurements will be recorded, and how many data are needed to support a claim; Conduct an investigation and/or evaluate and/or revise the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of the investigation.

For elementary grades 3-5:

• Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved (NGSS: 3-5-ETS1-3).

• Identify the variables in a simple investigation (PDESAS: S3.A.2.1.3).

For middle school grades, 6-8:

• Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and mass of the object (NGSS: MS-PS2-2).

• Design a controlled experiment by specifying how the independent variables will be manipulated, how the dependent variable will be measured and which variables will be held constant (PDESAS: S8.A.2.1.3).


Additionally, the ISP Tutor's Background Research Module (BRM) units address many of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and accompanying Disciplinary Core Ideas listed in the NGSS for Middle School students.

Click here to access more information about the BRM and see the how the instructional units correspond to various NGSS standards.