The 5E's: Explore

Hannah Kinnamon, Tresse Keplinger, Kat Elder

The Purpose of Explore Phase:

This phase provides students with a common base of experiences. They identify and develop concepts, processes, and skills. During this phase, students actively explore their environment or manipulate materials.

The Teacher's Role:

  • Encourages the students to work together without direct instruction from the instructor
  • Observes and listens to the students as they interact
  • Asks for justification (evidence) and clarification from students
  • Provides time for students to puzzle through problems
  • Acts as a consultant for students

The Student's Role:

  • Thinks freely, but with in the limits of the activity
  • Tests predictions and hypotheses
  • Forms new predictions and hypotheses
  • Tries alternatives and discusses them with others
  • Records observations and ideas
  • Suspends judgement


The 5E learning cycle is based of off the constructivist theory. Constructivism is a learning strategy that draws on students' existing knowledge, beliefs, and skills. With the constructivist approach, students synthesize new information from prior learning experiences.

A constructivist teacher sets up problems, or in this case, experiments, and monitors student exploration. A constructivist teacher guides student inquiry and promotes new patterns of thinking. In the constructivist theory, teachers encourage students to direct their own learning and exploration. Ultimately, the goal of constructivism is for students to begin to think of learning as accumulating and evolving knowledge.

Through the explore phase of the 5E cycle, students participate in the constructivist theory through hands on experience and learning through direct experience.

Examples of this Phase:

  • nature walk that focus on topics including, but not limited to: plant species, ecosystems, insect life, discussing why leaves change color in fall ( leaf abscission), ect.
  • hands on experiments such as the the ones we have done in our classroom: making waves (tuning fork in water), singing glasses, amplifying sound (coat hanger hitting against desk), ect.
  • virtual experiment such as dissecting a frog online
  • can you think of any more types of exploration?