The Driving Question and Planning an Investigation

Photo by Sindre Stru00f8m on

Our next step is to identify the driving question for our unit. This is the first time that these students are creating a driving question board. We began by talking about what a driving question is—one big question that includes all the other questions or that is the big idea that all the questions would fit under. Students talked with their table groups about their ideas for a big question, then they shared with the class. The big question that emerged was How does the rubbish system work?

Next we talked about how scientists find answers to their questions. I asked students to talk with their table groups about when they had worked like scientists and how scientists find answers to questions. Students shared ideas such as research, observing, and investigating.

We then began planning our first investigation. I reminded students that scientists plan their investigations before they carry them out. Our big question is about how the rubbish system works. I shared some data about materials that do not go to H-Power, to connect to a student question from the driving question board, Can all trash be made into electricity?

I shared this data from the website on O‘ahu’s recycling.

O‘ahu 2019 recycling data (Source:

I told students that according to the website, these are materials that do not go to H-Power to be burned. I asked students why they thought we do not burn these materials. For example, why donʻt we burn metal? We discussed how metal melts rather than burns, so it cannot be burned to make electricity. Then we discussed how food waste and yard trimmings can be used to make compost and fertilize plants, which is why restaurants and hotels are required to compost their food waste. It is better for the Earth to reuse and recycle what we can rather than burn it.

I asked the students how they thought we could make a test landfill or a test compost and what different materials they thought we should investigate. We collaboratively developed a list of what to include in our compost bottles—soil, water, banana, apple, plastic spoon, and aluminum foil.

Next class we plan our investigation.

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