Heads nod in unison, a few eyes roll, but no one’s world is rocked. After all we only stated, “make sure it is a testable question.”

It seems obvious enough that scientific questions are testable, right? But when we push our students a little harder and ask if their question can really be answered with the data they have…often the answer is NO.

Teachers in the Polar-ICE Sci-I Project are changing that to a YES for students across New Jersey and California.

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@LaymonSHS: We’re giving feedback on their testable questions using the SMART checklist!

Students are using a checklist to ensure the questions are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-oriented. They are developing and revising their questions to meet these criteria.

And because more minds think better than one and science is a collaborative process, the students are then participating in gallery walks. They help each other review and revise their questions.

Iteratively, and quickly, questions become narrowed down to something they can answer using data that they have (can find or collect).

Bingo! A testable question is born.

And the students have done the work, rather than the teacher providing the answer.

Try these approaches out in your classroom the next time your students are doing an investigation. Give your students time to think of, review, and iterate their questions. Push them to ensure the questions are truly testable.

Report back on how it goes below or on our Facebook page.

Let’s help students do the actual process of science, starting with their question. Once that work is done, the rest slides into place.

Interested in learning more…check out the Sci-I Project webpage, Sci-I Project 2016 Project Resources, or Sci-I Project 2016 Workshop Activities.