Environmental Learning Green Schools & Classrooms Natural Play Pure Science

How to Use Questions to Encourage Science Thinking

Questions Are Key!

Kids are great with questions.  Sometimes too good, right?  Step one of the scientific method, a thinking process, starts with a problem question.  As a parent, teacher, or mentor it’s important to keep kids asking questions.  The more practice kids get, the more likely they are to begin asking multiple types of questions and eventually questions that can be tested with an experiment.  From the lens of a science teacher, even middle school kids regularly struggle with narrowing their ideas and curiosities into a simple, single, testable question.

A great place to start encouraging kids down a science/technology path is to encourage all kinds of questions.  For example, “Is it going to snow today?” can lead to  a research questions like “What is the most it has snowed in Minnesota?” and eventually a testable questions such as “Where is the deepest snow in our yard?”

Science is a process, which also means that no one should know all of the answers, including teachers, mentors, and parents!  One of my favorite concepts in science is NOT KNOWING.  When you model not knowing it can lead to the sharing of research techniques, finding of reliable sources, and question trails.  These are all valuable skills in science literacy.   Whether you know the answer or not, here are some responses that encourage science thinking:

“Thanks for asking!  What other ideas do you have about it?”

“Where is a reliable place to look for an answer?”

“I am not sure about the answer.  What do you think?”

“Who is an expert we could ask or email?”

“How could we create an experiment to test that?”

“Could you hold that question in your brain or in your pocket?”

“Great questions! When should we make time to talk about the details?”

“When should we go to the library or online to find out more?”

“How did you get to be so curious?  Tell me more!”

“What do you think would happen if…?”


Play. Learn. Love.

February 2014