Coming Up with Good Questions
The student is expected to ask questions about organisms, objects, and events during observations and investigations.
The student develops abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry in classroom and outdoor investigations.
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.
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.
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.
Student worksheets for this activity can be downloaded at the link below.
- Supporting Lessons
- Assessment Ideas
- Literature Connections
- Additional Resources
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.
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.
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.
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)
Questioning Strategies: Lawrence Hall of Science (website) - Explore strategies for using questions to leading discussion in the science classroom. Includes downloadable supplemental information.