Deciding Your Big/Essential Questions
Decide the big or essential questions you will try to answer when this project is complete.
It should drive everything you do in the project.
Good projects don’t have a large number of questions. Sometimes, even one good question is enough.
Work together with students to determine these questions.
Take the necessary time to establish your questions. It does not necessarily have to happen immediately. It may take some time to learn about the topic before making decisions.
Example from Liger:
At Liger, the project facilitator works with students at the beginning of the project to determine the big or essential questions that will be addressed during each one of our projects.
This is not always an easy process and may take some time. Students often need to know enough about the context of the project, background knowledge or even have some field experience before really finding great essential questions.
During Liger's on the Dinosaurs in Cambodia project, the following questions were developed after some information gathering, some interviewing, and a lot of discussions.
Did dinosaurs live in Cambodia? What kind, and where? How do they fit into Cambodia’s natural history?
How do paleontologists collect evidence of dinosaur remains/imprints?
What does the Cambodian public know about dinosaurs? Why is it important for them to know about this discovery?
In what ways can we spread knowledge of this discovery to the Cambodian people and the larger scientific community?
How can this dinosaur footprint best be preserved? How can we work with the Ministry and landowners on preservation efforts?