I always had a love/hate relationship with the ‘What if…’ questions in the classroom. On the one hand, the class can get so derailed by those questions, the main class objected gets held for ransom and learning is missed. But on the other hand, it is exactly that curiosity that fuels student interest and motivates them to go deep into the content of the lesson. In Science, Inquiry-based learning is very open ended and provides many of the What If learners that chance to not only get the lesson, but to go beyond the lesson.

Blogging is a nice resource for the Science classroom because it gives voice to the extended questions that may be missed or not spoken during class time. After a lab exercise, students usually regurgitate the exercise into their lab notebooks or worksheets. Have the teacher post their Science prompt early in the week and have a deadline on Thursday for all students to participate in the discussion. “How would you design the experiment differently and what results would you expect?” Students have their open opportunity to share their ideas, but also can collaborate with peers to improve their own ideas.

B Smith: I would use pipe cleaners for the support piece since they have wires on the inside.

C Clancy: I like B’s pipe cleaner idea. However, I think the fuzzy cloth on each pipe cleaners would probably stick to the base of the unit. How about putting the pipe cleaners inside a straw?

F Thoms: I want to suspend the beaker instead of resting it on the unit. I like the pipe cleaner as a way for wrapping around the top of the beaker and hanging it from a tube rack. Nice idea B!

By the end of the week, the teacher can pick one of the popular ideas and perform the exercise on last time, but as the student designed it. A short comparison chart can compare and gauge student comprehension of the main idea.