In these classes, inquiry becomes the basis for developing an understanding of physics. Physical theories are not directly taught, but are constructed by students themselves. The idea is to teach students how to carry out scientific inquiry, and then have them discover the basic physical principles for themselves by doing experiments.
Students carry out research in groups, using computer simulations and real-world materials. In their groups, they also create laws, models, and theories to account for their experimental findings. The groups then meet to conduct a research symposium. Here, as in a professional research community, the groups report their results and attempt to agree upon a model for the phenomenon under investigation.
The criteria of assessment, such as "understanding the processes of inquiry," "using the tools of science," and "reasoning carefully," become the basis for evaluating the quality of the students' research. Students use them when carrying out their own research and when evaluating each others' work. Thus, the correctness of student-constructed models of force and motion depends on their using the criteria to evaluate the research findings of the different groups.