20 Questions

20 Questions is a lesson plan created by 2000 HOST Teacher Deanna Smith-Turnage.  


  • To learn how to make observations
  • To learn how to ask questions that are testable
  • To learn how to work in cooperative groups
  • To learn how to form an hypothesis

This lesson is designed so students can make observations of their natural environment; 
and then, ask questions that are testable or can lead to a the concept of hypothesis development.

Grade Level:  7-10

Location and Time

Any NRS Reserve with Classroom Follow-up

Teacher Preparation

Before the trip, spend some class time talking about observing natural areas.  Students may not be accustomed to recording such details as “the tips of the leaves were rimmed in red.”  Practice observing classroom materials to learn to record details.  Make a game out of who can find the most details in any given object.  Good questions are often found in the details!


  1. At the Reserve, each student will go outdoors and find a space that he or she can make individual observations for 20 minutes.
  2. Explain to the students that they should write down everything they see:  colors of plants, smells, movement of animals.  If they see it, they should write it down.
  3. After twenty minutes are up, students return to a specified area and write twenty questions about his/her observations that were of personal interest.
  4. Back in the Classroom, students reassemble in assigned groups.  
  5. Have each group choose the best two questions that can be tested.
  6. All groups then list their best testable questions on the board.
  7. Students will then select three questions that interest them.  Then all students select a topic that they would like to investigate.


  1. Students will present their observations.
  2. Students will present their questions about their observations
  3. Students will write hypothesis statements about their chosen topic.

Teacher Materials

  • Pen/pencil
  • Journal/notepad
  • Poster paper
  • Non-toxic marker