Question Everything: The Key to Scientific Learning

November 04, 2022

Up in the Maria Mitchell Science Room, the first half of this year is devoted to Earth Science. The Anderson Room is studying “Weather and the Atmosphere.” The Krisberg, Longobardi, and Mott Rooms are learning about “Our Earth: Cycles, Patterns, and Systems.” Dunbar, Fell, and Fox’s science students are rocking Geology. Benezet, Fry, Green, and Levi Rooms are diving into Oceanography, after completing an overview of the Salt Marsh as Ecosystem that included a trip to the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park.

One consistent theme in all classes and age groups is Questions. Teachers Stacy Miller and Andy Young encourage their young scientists to “Question Everything” as the key to scientific exploration and learning. There is even a corner of the room dedicated to post-it notes on which students have written the questions they’re pondering: “What would happen if there were a fault line near a volcano?” “Can a transform plate (boundary) make one plate rise?” and “Would the Leaning Tower of Pisa withstand an earthquake?” (Yes! Apparently the same “squishy” soil that causes the tower’s famous lean protects it from earthquake ground motion. It’s called “dynamic soil-structure interaction,” and you can read about it here: Why the Leaning Tower of Pisa Doesn’t Fall Down in Earthquakes)

Learning to ask questions isn’t only about scientific inquiry, however. Another goal of the program is to integrate reading, writing, and math into the study of science. So the Question Corner also contains Judith Hochman’s Question Words to help students frame their questions, as they learn to write sentences and then form paragraphs.

The students have many pathways in exploring science. Stacy and Andy introduce fun programs and apps, like Mosa Mack Science, Mystery Science, and BrainPOP. These resources provide challenging but fun and interactive science stories and situations to explore and figure out.

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