Sunday, January 9, 2011

Driving Questions

Driving Questions from

The Driving Question is central to the inquiry process and must come before deciding on the project or unit activities.  The natural outcome of the project or unit is that it is driven by the Driving Question. 
A good Driving Question makes a unit or project intriguing, complex, and problematic.  Although standard classroom assignments, like story problems and essays, pose questions that students must answer, a Driving Question requires multiple activities and the synthesis of different types of information before it can be answered. 

It brings cohernce to disparate unit or project activities and serves as a “lighthouse” that promotes student interest and directs students toward the units or project’s goals and objectives.

The Driving Questions should address authentic concern.  For example, when creating the Driving Question it is useful to ask yourself: “Where is the content I am trying to teach used in the real world?”  Although it is usually easier to focus students’ attention on a single question, some topics will require multiple Driving Questions.

Driving Questions are:  provocative; open-ended; go to the heart of a discipline or topic; challenging; can arise from real world dilemmas that students find interesting; and are consistent with curricular standards and frameworks. 

Take the quiz at:  to determine how much you understand Driving Questions.

In the ICCARS project, there are three things that should come through in any Driving Question for this project:  it should focus in on climate change; requires students to have some understanding of remote sensing to provide evidence to their answer; and utilize NASA data in some way.

Here are some examples of Driving Questions that have been turned in so far.  What do you think of them?  Share your comments below:

  1. How can we, your family and society, lessen our impact on Global Climate Change and what data supports these solutions?
  2. How can you as a student use simple tools and instruments (remote sensing) to gather data and evidence to draw conclusions about patterns of weather and climate in your own environment?
    • What kind of correlation exists between altitude and weather statistics such as temperature and wind speed?  Will this correlation be consistent as weather conditions change?
    • How do human activities affect climate change such as global warming?
    • How does climate change affect living organisms in Dearborn, MI?
    • How can you explain the relationship between weather and climate and how does this relationship contribute to climate change?
  3. How is climate change and global warming evident in Southgate?
  4. Multiple Driving Questions, but still needs a main one.
    • How do changes in land use affect local water quality?
    • How do changes in land use affect local temperature and precipitation?
    • How do changes in land use affect carbon sequestering?
    • How do changes in land use affect air quality?
    • How do changes in land use affect biodiversity?
  5. How can we use kites equipped with weather sensors and cameras to learn about how animals adapt to climate change?
    • How does a kite fly on a windy day?
    • How does our team work together safely to fly large kites equipped with remote sensing devices?
    • What information can we gather with remote sensing devices and what can it tell us about animals and their habitats?
  6. What’s in the Atmosphere and Why Should I Care?
    • How does the composition of the earth's atmosphere affect its properties and behavior?
    • How does solar radiation influence conditions on earth?
    • How can scientific tools help us understand human impact on the atmosphere?
  7. Why does Avondale Middle School and it's local area look the way it does?
  8. How can you lessen your Carbon Footprint, here in Detroit?
    • What role does carbon dioxide play in global warming?
    • How do cardon dioxide levels in Detroit compare to levels in other areas?
    • How do our actions impact carbon dioxide levels?
    • What can we do at the individual level to reduce carbon dioxide levels?  At the local level?  At the global level?