Put the "quest" in questions


About this inquiry tool

Curiosity is a powerful catalyst for learning, and is at the heart of Ocean School’s educational approach. Great questions help us to explore relationships and the complexities of seemingly simple concepts.

Allowing space for students to ask questions sustains inquiry and puts them in the driver's seat. When they’re ready, students can use questions as a driving force behind their Take Action plans.

When to use this lesson

We suggest that this lesson serve as an early introduction to an Ocean School module. Encouraging questioning can promote students’ ownership, empowerment, engagement, and allow your students to express their own interests.

As an educator, you know your students best. The lesson provided here is just one way to model exploring questions and inquiry.

Lesson objectives

As students explore what makes a great question, they will:

  • Identify and ask different types of questions

  • Develop the tools and vocabulary to pose effective questions

  • Evaluate their questions


60 minutes


Part 1

15 min

  1. As a class, watch a video from Ocean School that will inspire questions. The module trailers (introductory videos) are great starting points for provoking questions. For example, you could watch the trailer for Healthy Habitats.

  2. Explain to the students:

    • Today we’re going to think about how to ask questions that can lead to new discoveries.

    • To get started, we’re going to watch a video and write down any questions that come to mind.

  3. Ask your students to write down questions that they have about the video.

  4. At the same time, write down a variety of example questions of your own to model.

For example:

    • What habitats are in the North Atlantic?

    • What species live there? Why do they live there?

    • What do species need to be healthy?

    • How do people research in the North Atlantic?

    • Who is Boris Worm?

    • Who studies the Ocean?

Part 2

10 min

  1. Next, discuss with students two basic types of questions:

    • Questions that have one answer. (Who is Boris Worm?)

    • Questions that might have more than one answer, require more research, or can provoke more questions! (Why does this species live in the North Atlantic?)

  2. Ask students to share the questions that they generated while watching the video.

  3. Create a list on the board as a class.

  4. Explain that you want all of their questions - from introductory, to in-depth.

  5. Capture a variety of question types.

  6. Ask students to help categorize the questions you wrote on the board according to the two basic types of questions.

Part 3

10 min

  1. As a class, watch the video above.

  2. Ask your class:

    • What makes a great question?

In the video, a question is ‘great’ when it sustains or promotes further inquiry.

This means that:

    • It requires more than a yes or no answer

    • You don’t know the answer

    • You need to consider different options (there could be more than one answer)

    • You need to make a reasoned judgement based on evidence

3. Return to the class category list and ask:

    • Do you want to change how you categorized your questions?

4. Discuss with your class:

    • When is it useful to ask questions with direct answers? Questions with direct answers are a good place to start exploring. This is where pieces of data can be collected to help answer the more in-depth questions.

    • How can you gauge if a piece of data is accurate?

Part 4

20 min

  1. In groups of 2, ask the students to watch another video from the module, and record their questions.

  2. Invite students to think about some questions on their own (2m). Then have students pair and share their questions with their partners (2m).

  3. Invite students to share some of their questions, and the type of question they think it is.

  4. Discuss as a class:

    • Is this a question with one answer, or multiple possible answers?

    • Is this a question about a simple fact, or about a relationship?

    • What information would you want/need to know in order to answer this question?

For more information, read the Inquiry tools guide.