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  • Explore how and why we ask questions

  • Create a list of questions about a topic that interests you

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We’re thinking about the question: “How can we ask, improve, and plan to investigate questions that are meaningful to us?”

Your challenge this week is to create a “Quest Map” that describes how and why you will explore your inspiring question.


Building Questioning Skills

15-20 Minutes




Why do we ask questions?


There are many instances that inspire us to ask questions.

  • Sometimes we are looking for need-to-know information.

  • Other times, we may be wondering about the world around us.

Albert Einstein, pictured above, was known for asking new, powerful questions that arose out of his curiosity about the universe.

At age 16, he wondered: What if I chased a beam of light? He then asked a lot of need-to-know questions as he explored his wonderings.

Today, we are going to examine the different types of questions and how to improve our ability to ask them.

Questions No One Knows the Answers To

As you watch the TED-Ed video, ask yourself:

  • How is the narrator’s approach to questions different from the way questions are typically used in schools?

  • What did the narrator learn about questions as he grew older?

  • Are you interested in any of the questions he asked? Which ones? What are your own questions?

The narrator above is obviously asking very big questions. But there are different types of questions, including some with more practical answers.

Let’s explore two categories of questions and consider the value of questions from each category.

Closed-Ended Questions


Sometimes we ask questions that only have one answer. That answer could be “yes,” “no,” or another simple statement. For example:

  • What color is that?

  • What continent is Mozambique on?

These are called closed-ended questions. The answers to these questions may be very important, but they don’t inspire us to go on a journey to answer them.

Sometimes we don’t want to go on a journey to answer a question. We just need to know the answer so we can do something with the information.

Can you think of circumstances in which simple answers are very important?

Open-Ended Questions


Sometimes we ask questions that have more than one answer, questions that require us to investigate to find the answers, or, like the examples in the video, ones that don’t have answers at all.


  • How can I be a good friend?

  • How can I make the world a better place?

  • How did life begin in the universe?

These questions are called open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions can send us on a journey, helping us learn about ourselves and imagine new ways to solve problems.

Can you think of a time when you asked an open-ended question that sent you on a journey?


closed-ended questions:

questions that have one answer, sometimes just a simple “yes” or “no”

open-ended questions:

questions that have more than one answer, and make us think and wonder


Now that you’ve explored the different types of questions, you get to focus your questioning power on something you are curious about.

The question you choose will send you on a journey!


Your challenge this week is to create a “Quest Map” that describes how and why you will explore your inspiring question.

Today, you will think about your interests and passions, then create a list of questions to explore.


Think about:

  • What are your passions? What are your interests?

  • What have you always wondered about?

On a piece of paper, make a list of at least 3 ideas or topics that you are most curious about. You can also use the “Asking Questions” handout if you like.


Look at your list of the topics and ideas you are most curious about.

  • Which one of these excites you the most?

On your paper (or the “Asking Questions” handout), complete this sentence with the idea or topic that you selected:

  • I can follow my heart and mind to learn about ___________________________________.

This statement is called a QFocus (Question Focus). It is part of a method to ask questions called the Question Formulation Technique. You will use it to help you produce questions.


Now it’s your turn to come up with your own questions!

First: Generate your own questions!

  • Start the timer when you are ready.

  • Ask as many questions as you can about your QFocus: I can follow my heart and mind to learn about ____________________________________.

  • Do not stop to answer the questions or worry if they are “good” or “bad.”

  • Write down EVERY QUESTION exactly as it comes to mind.

  • Change any statement into a question.

Once you are done, look back at your questions. Ask yourself:

  • Does it have a “yes” or “no” answer? Is there only one possible answer? Put a “C” next to it for closed-ended.

  • Does it have many different answers? Does it have more than one answer? Put an “O” next to it for open-ended.

  • If you don’t know whether a question is open or closed, don’t worry, just skip it!

Save your questions for Day 2 to start to plan your journey!


Watch the full “Questions No One Knows the Answers To” video from TED-Ed. Explore the questions:

  • How many universes are there?

  • Why can’t we see evidence of alien life?

This process of generating questions is called the Question Formulation Technique. To learn more about this, watch the “QFT in 90 Seconds” video and see how you can do this on your own!

Ready for Day 2?

On day 2, you will start to plan how you will answer an inspiring question!

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