So how exactly do we ask and answer our own questions, and why does it matter?

So how exactly do we ask and answer our own questions, and why does it matter?

By Rebecca Woodbury Keller

So how exactly do we ask and answer our own questions, and why does it matter?

In recent posts, we’ve shared about the importance of getting kids to ask and answer their own questions. Beyond that, it is important for those of us grown up “kids” to reconsider how we ask our own questions and how we learn. We can answer our own science questions! 


And, how exactly do we go about that? 


Let’s explore a few steps:



  1. Identify your question.

    What are you curious about? What science question has always puzzled you? Does your child want to know why grass is green? Step one – identify a question. 
  2. Research.

    The first step is to start exploring for an answer. Research can be anything from doing a Google search, or going to the library, or asking an expert.

    The most important part for researching is to vet your sources. So what does that mean? It means find sources that are reliable in their information. Things like:

    Primary sources – scientific journals or scientists themselves. This is a great way to get information straight from the source. This can be a solid source of information. However, it can also be confusing if you aren’t already educated about a subject. 

So, then we look at secondary sources. 

Secondary sources rely on primary sources for their information. They aren’t always as accurate as the original source, but they can be easier to understand. Secondary sources are often reviews or critiques of the primary source, textbooks, published articles, etc. 


Sources include things such as blogs or opinion pieces are a step removed from secondary sources –  we call them tertiary sources. These are the most accessible and easiest to understand, but are not 100% of the time accurate or reliable.

  1. Break it down. Once you’ve gathered information about your question, you can start the next step - Figuring out how exactly you can answer your question or maybe even which part of your question you will answer.

    Think about how you could break down parts of your question. Consider ideas like:

    1. Test a quick idea, follow a recipe, you can decide to do a full experiment or just a calculation. Test, Tinker, Try. 
    2. Figure. Once you have more information about your question, this is the figuring out part. How exactly can you answer your question? Which part of your question can you answer? By testing a quick idea, follow a recipe, you can decide to do a full experiment or a just a calculation. Test, Tinker, Try. 

  2. Share! By sharing with others, we learn more about our question – as in, what questions have we not yet explored? What ideas might others have about our answer? Comparing answers helps us determine how close our answers are to others’ and can reveal assumptions we make in our experiments.

    This is the most fun step - sharing your answers and getting the chance to debate your process or argue your answer.


  3. Repeat. Do more research, find new questions to ask, test, tinker, try, to answer your questions, and then talk, tell, and dazzle…

    RATATAZ! And repeat. Do more research, which generates new questions, test, tinker, try, to answer your questions, and then talk, tell, dazzle...RATATAZ.

    In essence, be curious. We learn when we are curious, explore, and repeat. 

Learn more about using RATATAZ at home or in your classroom here