Background: As inquiry-based instruction is not universally implemented in science classrooms, it is crucial to introduce instructional strategies through the use of contextualized learning activities to allow students with different background knowledge and abilities to learn the essential competencies of scientific inquiry and promote their emotional perception and engagement. Purpose: This study explores how essential scientific competencies of inquiry can be integrated into classroom teaching practices and investigates both typical and gifted secondary students’ emotional perception and engagement in learning activities. Sample: A case teacher along with 226 typical and 18 gifted students from a suburban secondary school at Taiwan participated in this study. Design and methods: After attending twelve 3-hour professional development workshops that focused on scientific inquiry teaching, the case teacher voluntarily developed and elaborated her own teaching activities through the discussions and feedback that she received from workshop participants and science educators. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected through activity worksheet, questionnaire, video camera, and tape recorders. Frequency distribution, Mann-Whitney U test, and discourse analysis were used for data analyses. Results: Case teacher’s teaching activities provide contextual investigations that allow students to practice making hypotheses, planning investigations, and presenting and evaluating findings. Students’ learning outcomes reveal that typical students can engage in inquiry-based learning with positive emotional perception as well as gifted students regardless of their ability level. Both gifted and typical students’ positive emotional perception of and active engagement in learning provide fresh insight into feasible instructions for teachers who are interested in inquiry-based teaching but have little available time to implement such instructions into their classrooms. Conclusions: The results of our work begin to address the critical issues of inquiry-based teaching by providing an exemplary teaching unit encompassing essential scientific competencies.