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Coming Up with Good Questions

Coming Up with Good Questions

TEKS Objective

The student is expected to ask questions about organisms, objects, and events during observations and investigations.

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Essential Understanding

The student develops abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry in classroom and outdoor investigations.

Science Background

Information About the Process of Scientific Inquiry: National Institutes of Health Science Education (website) - Scroll to section 6.2, “Scientifically Testable Questions,” for an definition of “testable question” and tips for incorporating effective questioning techniques into inquiry science instruction.

Information About the Process of Scientific Inquiry
National Institutes of Health Science Education, science.education.nih.gov

Science Fair Central: Discovery Education (website) - Explanation of testable questions and their critical role to scientific investigation, with examples of test questions related to a variety of potential elementary school activities.

Science Fair Central
Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com

Signature Lesson

Working with Questions: National Institutes of Health Science Education (website) - Students learn what makes questions testable. Then they read short scenarios, devise and ask their own testable questions about what they have read, and identify types of evidence needed to answer their investigation questions.

Working with Questions
National Institutes of Health Science Education, science.education.nih.gov

Student worksheets for this activity can be downloaded at the link below.

Student Worksheets for Working with Questions
National Institutes of Health Science Education, science.education.nih.gov

Supporting Lessons

Using Testable Questions to Teach Motion and Forces: NSTA (website) - This article uses an activity on force and motion to illustrate how the “Activity Before Concept” method of science inquiry can help students understand the concept of testable questions, and to write, use and answer testable questions of their own.

Using Testable Questions to Teach Motion and Forces
National Science Teachers Association, www.nsta.org

Elaboration Lessons and Extensions

Choose a Project Idea: Discovery Education (website) - Students choose from a wide variety of testable questions to serve as a basis for their own experiments and/or science fair projects in life, physical or Earth science. Includes guidance for investigating each question, including suggested parameters and key issues to consider.

Choose a Project Idea
Discovery Education, www.discovereducation.com

Assessment Ideas

Make a density column using equal parts of corn syrup, colored water (one drop of food coloring in water) and cooking oil. Add the ingredients in the order listed to a cylinder or tall narrow glass. Pour each liquid slowly into the center of the column, without touching the sides. Three distinct layers should be observable. Show students the density column, but do not give them any information about it. Direct students to develop a list of questions about the column and then have them select questions from their lists that could be answered through investigation and testing.

Literature Connections

What If: Mind-Boggling Science Questions for Kids. Ehrlich, R. (ISBN-13: 978-0471176084)

How Come? Every Kid’s Science Questions Explained. Wollard, K. (ISBN-13: 978-1563053245)

Related Science TEKS

(2.1A) Science Safety
The student is expected to identify and demonstrate safe practices as described in the Texas Safety Standards during classroom and outdoor investigations, including wearing safety goggles, washing hands, and using materials appropriately.

(2.1B) Importance of Safe Practices
The student is expected to describe the importance of safe practices.

(2.1C) Recycling/Disposal of Science Materials
The student is expected to identify and demonstrate how to use, conserve, and dispose of natural resources and materials such as conserving water and reuse or recycling of paper, plastic, and metal.

(2.2A) Ask Questions
The student is expected to ask questions about organisms, objects, and events during observations and investigations.

(2.2B) Plan and Conduct Descriptive Investigation
The student is expected to plan and conduct descriptive investigations such as how organisms grow.

(2.2C) Collect Data
The student is expected to collect data from observations using simple equipment such as hand lenses, primary balances, thermometers, and non-standard measurement tools.

(2.2D) Record and Organize Data & Observations
The student is expected to record and organize data using pictures, numbers, and words.

(2.2E) Communicate and Justify Explanations
The student is expected to communicate observations and justify explanations using student-generated data from simple descriptive investigations.

(2.2F) Comparing Results of Investigations
The student is expected to compare results of investigations with what students and scientists know about the world.

(2.3B) Make Predictions
The student is expected to make predictions based on observable patterns.

Related Math TEKS

2.12D    The student is expected to use tools such as real objects, manipulatives, and technology to solve problems.

2.13A    The student is expected to explain and record observations using objects, words, pictures, numbers, and technology.

Additional Resources

Questioning Strategies: Lawrence Hall of Science (website) - Explore strategies for using questions to leading discussion in the science classroom. Includes downloadable supplemental information.

Questioning Strategies
Lawrence Hall of Science, www.lawrencehallofscience.org

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