To encourage and train participants to develop sensible questioning skills and inspire creative, self-directed scientific inquiry that will attempt to answer or offer an explanation to the question
Many people feel intimidated and awkward asking questions for fear of being perceived as unintelligent, slow or an annoyance. On the contrary, “intelligent” individuals are inquisitive; but their inquisition is coupled with a desire to find an explanation to their questions. To allay pejorative attitudes toward questioning, Awareness & Connection: Questioning Sensibly (ACQuestS) has been developed. Luckily, “sensibly” does not always appeal to the intellect or reason, which relies heavily on the perception of senses. With this in mind ACQuestS aims to help participants acquire or acquest confidence and comfort in developing sensible questions beginning with “sense” questions. Moreover, ACQuestS aims to instill the art of inquiry among the participants. ACQUESTS has been designed to function as a follow-up activity to each of the preceding modules or as a unit by itself.
Location and Time
TIME REQUIRED: ACQuestS could be completed successfully in 60 minutes. It could also be extended to allow time to participate in small group reflection.
Choose a site (e.g. natural reserve, park, football field, etc.) big enough to accommodate all participants to work independently.
For 20 minutes, participants will investigate the site. They may choose to remain in one area or travel around. However, they need to move cautiously, so as not to disrupt the environment.
As they explore, participants will generate questions relating to their exploration. Encourage everyone to develop as many queries that appeal to their senses and sensibilities. This includes everything that appeals to their vision, audition, olfaction, taction, and cognition. Discourage participants from tasting anything or touching any foreign object!
To provoke an inquisitive mode advise participants to begin with the common adverbs of interrogation: why, when, what and how. Another way of promoting inquiry is to suggest that participants create several questions for a particular subject or interest. For example, if a participant is intrigued by the hardness of a tree trunk, he or she might generate several questions about the subject using the common questioning words:
“Why is a tree trunk hard?”
“When does a tree trunk become hard?”
“What makes a tree trunk hard?”
“How does a tree trunk become hard?”
After 20 minutes, allow participants additional time to reflect or bring their observations to closure. If additional time is given, the facilitator should announce how much additional time will be allotted.
After completing their exploration and inquisition, the facilitator should gather all participants to an area within the environment and encourage them to share their queries to a classmate or the group. Each participant should be given the opportunity to share his or her questions or observations.
If different participants have developed similar questions, suggest that they work together to create a scientific investigation or inquiry that will attempt to answer or offer an explanation to the question.
This activity should be repeated several times in the same or different environments until the participants are comfortable with developing questions and designing a scientific investigation to answer or find an explanation to the questions.
Teachers are encouraged to develop their own learning extensions to develop sensible questioning skills and inspire creative, self-directed scientific inquiry that will attempt to answer or offer an explanation to the question
- pen or pencil (colored pens or colored pencils are strongly recommended)
- several sheets of paper (spiral notebook is recommended)
- Hand lens or binoculars
- Ruler or tape measure