Question Formulation Technique
We use a variation of the Question Formulation Technique (QFT), developed by the Right Question Institute, to help the students generate their personal questions. Here’s how it works:
Give the class a prompt (e.g. “The closest star to our solar system is 4 light years away”) Break the class into small groups, and give them 5 minutes to generate as many questions they can think of from this prompt. Students write down every question, and do not judge if a question is good or bad. Afterward, students review their questions and rate whether questions are closed (i.e. can be answered easily by an expert) or open (i.e. require more complex research or reflection). Repeat multiple times. Finally, have students reflect on their web of questions, and decide which ones they want to investigate the most.
Here are some questions generated by one group of LITU students.
Funding and More Information
With generous support from the John Templeton Foundation, the WWT Ambassadors program is currently developing an exciting after-school project geared at middle school students, titled "Life In the Universe Inquiry Lab". The Life in the Universe (LITU) labs will be a series of 8 sessions in which students will use hands-on activities and visualizations using WWT to answer the question: "How can we and why do we seek life elsewhere in the Universe?" In partnership with the Harvard Ed Portal and a local middle school, WWTA is developing, implementing, testing and refining the LITU lab modules with small cohorts of students.
Upon completion the LITU labs will become available to the public for no cost to be shared and implemented in informal, including extended-day, learning environments across the country.
The pilot program and it's culminating celebration and student tour showcase were featured in the Harvard Gazette on July 5, 2016.