Science teachers are often faced with the difficult task of trying to use science questions to teach complex or abstract concepts to students who are often bored or uninterested. Students, in general, will have a great deal of other subjects on their mind during class, such as love interests, issues with friends, or what sort of fun the weekend will bring.
In order break through this wall of indifference, science teachers must take a creative approach, with science questions that are both educational, and entertaining.
Capture Their Funny Bone, and Capture Their Minds
The only way to capture the interest of a student who feels indifferent to science, especially a high school student, is by presenting them with science questions about things related to common objects or events from everyday life. The following questions are so mundane that it will drive students up the wall attempting to come up with the correct answers. Use these to science questions to spark lively classroom conversation and to spark interest in science among your students.
What Makes Popcorn Pop?
Everyone loves eating popcorn, but few people really appreciate the science involved in the process of popping corn. While it’s common knowledge that a popcorn kernel is a seed, it’s what’s inside that seed that is often a mystery. The very center of the kernel is a planet embryo surrounded by a very soft material that consists of starch and water. Around this inner core is the hard shell of the seed. Heating the kernel over a fire, or in a microwave, eventually causes the temperature of the kernel to hit 400 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, the evaporation point of water is reached, and it transforms into steam. The steam pressure causes the starch and water mixture to burst through the outer shell – giving you tasty popcorn!
Why Does Metal Sink, but Boats Float?
This question is a great one to teach the principles of density. A steel bar will certainly sink in water, because it is much more dense than the water is. However, because of the U-shaped design of a boat, the “inside” of the boat is actually mostly air. The air inside the boat makes the entire vessel much less dense than the surrounding water. Any object that is of lesser density floats to the top of a liquid with greater density. This is why as people (or water) enters the boat, its density increases and the boat sinks further down into the water. If the boat becomes to dense (fills with water), it will start to sink down below the water.
Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?
A great question to teach kids about plant biology is to discuss what happens to leaves in the fall. In fact, even many adults don’t realize that those colors were present in those leaves all throughout the summer. The green color comes from the process of photosynthesis which the trees use throughout the spring and fall to generate food and energy from the sun. The tree generates chlorophyll, a green pigment, which enables photosynthesis. However, in the fall, this process ends, and trees begin their “hibernation” phase. Since photosynthesis is no longer taking place, chlorophyll is no longer produced, and the true colors of the leaves come out.
Get Students to Ask Questions
Even better than asking students these questions, is to prompt students to ask questions about things that they’ve never really considered before. Have them try to come up with science questions about things in everyday life that no one else in the class can answer (sometimes, including the teacher!) Generate enough questions for everyone in the class, or groups of 2 or 3, and assign them the task of finding the answers using the Internet or their local library.