Curiosity Strategies

ASK WHY?

This is a very simple yet powerful curiosity strategy. Just have the students ask why. As a teacher, I ask why all the time. WHY do the denominators have to be common when adding fractions? WHY does the moon not crash into Earth? 

Simply asking why prompts our curiosity and drives us to pursue deeper understanding. Ask why all the time!

I WONDER...

I have the students use this strategy a lot when they are reading an article in science. After spending time comprehending an article, the final step is to ask some Wonder Questions. Asking wonder questions allows the student opportunity to begin pursuing their own learning and their own curiosities.

Wonder questions open the door to student imagination!

WHAT IF?

This is a great curiosity strategy to promote creativity and innovative thinking. Too often we learn solely within the boundaries of our current knowledge. What if pushes the boundary and forces students to take risks with their thinking. It provides opportunity to imagine possibilities and to create and innovate.

Some examples we have used:

What if plants couldn't grow on the ground?

What if a telescope could be flexible?

What if the Ipad could be made out of biodegradable components?

CHANGE YOUR LENS

This strategy stimulates curiosity by changing perspective. Using this strategy asks students to look at something from a different perspective or looking at something from a different angle. Too often we look at things through one lens rather than multiple lenses.

Example:

Rather than simply looking at an image of a cell membrane, I ask students to imagine being inside. What would it feel like? Try to be a molecule and imagine crossing the membrane. How would you do it?

RE-VISIT

I hear a lot of students and adults say, "I know all about that" or "I know how that works". Do we really? I can tell time, but do I really understand how time works? Do I know how a clock works?

Re-visiting is an effective curiosity strategy because we can be curious about something we already have a fair amount of prior knowledge about. Re-visiting provides us with an opportunity to push the level of our questions and take our understanding deeper simply by being curious about it all over again.

Activity: Take a water bottle and re-visit with it. How do they make it? What are the materials it is made out of? How does the lid really work?

RANDOM CONNECTIONS

This is another great strategy to promote creativity and innovative thinking. If students are trying to innovate, I use this strategy to generate ideas and possible solutions to problems. For example, If a student is wanting to improve the performance of a skateboard, I will tell the student to pick 3 random items such as a banana, a pair of shoes and a locker. The student will then list a bunch of characteristics of each of those random items and see whether any of those features can be applied to his design solution for a skateboard.

The apparent randomness helps foster the curiosity leading to creativity and possible innovation.

SEEK OUT THE FLAWS

When students are stuck on what to do or are struggling with generating ideas or simply being curious, I have them complain about something they are learning about. I ask them to write down all the things which are wrong with their object or idea they are learning about. What are the flaws?

Once they begin brainstorming all the flaws and complaining about it, this leads nicely to , "So, what are you going to do about it?" What ideas do you have to fix the flaws?

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