By Claudia Caro and Erika Podest
Curiosity is a natural characteristic of all people, especially the young. It is the first step for a child to build knowledge, and I am sure we can all remember as children asking what?, why?, where?, and numerous other questions as we tried to learn new things.
Unfortunately, as children grow up, this natural curiosity slowly fades. Why is this? We don’t exactly know, but it might be that as children grow older they think they know all the answers or because most school systems are structured to teach by providing answers rather than formulating questions.
The bottom line is that knowledge without curiosity is not possible and if we want to understand what is happening around us, we need to ask questions. Sometimes the answers to our questions are in books, but other times the answer is not known and that is when the scientific process starts. This is when we discover cause and effect relationships by asking questions, carefully gathering and examining the evidence, and seeing if all the available information can be combined into a logical answer.
All scientific processes start with a question derived from an observation of a natural phenomenon. A question such as "what", "how", "when" and "where" is then posted after observing something interesting in nature.
How is new knowledge produced?
To ensure the creation of new knowledge, science follows the scientific method, which is defined as a group of coherently connected elements that guide us through steps, which lead us to a reflective process. This process breaks with established norms or with reality as we believe we know it and helps discover new things in order to produce new knowledge.
First Step: Observe!
Curiosity is enhanced through good observation by allowing us to focus on something with our five senses and identifying what captures our attention about our surroundings. This observational experience should guide us to formulate questions or help explain how we perceive something.
An observation exercise is strengthened through the collection of data. It is important that teachers promote observation activities for their students such as field excursions or relevant reading material or videos. An important part of the activity is to include the student’s input on what they observed or questions they might have.
Here are some recommendations for a field activity:
Discovery Starts with a Question:
The research question is the driver of a research project because the search for an answer guides the discovery of new knowledge. It is therefore important to find a question that has not already been answered, which also implies that a good research question should be worth answering.
The following are some characteristics of good research questions, that can be summarized in one name - OSCAR.
Some suggestion to post research questions:
Very interesting questions
Possibly interesting questions
Not interesting questions
No information about the answer
Too much time is needed to answer it
It is too expensive to answer.
A large area and many people are needed to answer it
Could possibly be answered.
What kind of research questions exists?
There are three kinds of research questions:
1. Descriptive: These questions are addressed to describe what is going on or what exists
2. Comparative questions
3. Correlative questions: These questions are designed to observe the relationship between two or more variables. Causal – effect questions could be included here
Establish a relationship between the research question and the hypothesis to proceed in identifying the variables.
Grand Canyon University. Writing a Good Research Question. Online. Available in https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/tutorials/question consulted on October, 2017
The GLOBE Program. GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium Resources - 2018
Online https://www.globe.gov/es/news-events/globe-events/virtual-conferences/2018-international-virtual-science-symposium/resources. Consulted on November, 2017