Science – Nurturing curiosity with an “I Wonder…” board

Curiosity is essential to any scientific endeavor. Fortunately, kids are naturally curious about the world around them, and we can easily build upon this foundation. One simple way to nurture this curiosity is to keep track of everyday questions through an “I Wonder…” board.

Our “I Wonder…” board is filled with questions from every member of the family. We post questions whenever we observe something out of the ordinary, or wonder how an everyday item works, or notice previously unnoticed details. Some questions have simple answers which can be found through reading, while others have complicated, or even unknown, answers. Some of these questions might be answerable by doing an experiment.

One key to writing down questions is to not worry about answering them now. The goal is not to come up with great research questions for your next science project (although you may), but to document the topics that peak your family’s curiosity.

Keeping an “I Wonder…” board is also an excellent chance for you, as a parent or teacher, to model the scientific practice of asking questions. When we first started our board, Ben and I would be the ones asking questions and posting them on the board. Then we began to restate the kids’ observations as questions and included them on the board. Now, when they come up with questions, we encourage them to write them down (or narrate to us) and post them. The kids are learning to ask their own questions and seeing the wonder of the world around them.

When the board starts to fill up, we move our post-it notes to a science notebook. I predict that these questions will be a great source for future science projects!

In case you’re wondering, here’s the list of questions on our board pictured above:

  • How do stars shine in the darkness? What are they like?
  • How do spiders cut the web when they are done?
  • Do hot drops of water run faster than cold drops?
  • Is the Angry Birds (a card game with dice) die fair? Does wild come up more often?
  • How many steps do we take a day?
  • Do some birds like muddy birdbaths better than clear ones?
  • Why don’t spiders get stuck in their own webs, but bugs do?
  • Do worms and jellyfish have mouths like other animals?
  • How does the amount of genetic change in plant reproduction compare to human reproduction?
  • Can we build a model of a neuron?
  • If metal utensils can cause a fire when microwaved, how is the inside of the microwave made of metal?
  • If you take all of the iron you eat in your lifetime, how big of an iron bar could you make?
  • Cottonwood trees seem to release more seeds during the daytime than during the nighttime. Is this true? If so, why?