When it comes to inquiry-based learning, we want to avoid engaging students with questions that can be easily “Googled”. However with that said, our searches on Google can tell us a lot about what is on our minds as a region, a country or as a global community. Looking at the trends around these Google queries can be a source for fantastic, student-generated questions of inquiry.
Google.org gauges flu activity country-by-country by looking at the Google searches from within each region. Looking at their global map, we can quickly see that the flu is much more prevalent in certain countries and continents. As a science teacher looking for opportunities for student inquiry, this graphic alone provides a compelling prompt for more student questions. What are the factors that cause a country or continent to become more susceptible to a flu outbreak? Why do we not see the flu across all regions and countries? How does a flu change? What impact do seasons have on the flu? What makes a flu particularly contagious?
Consequently from this one graphic alone, different subject areas may be able to draw upon different streams of student questions. Topics around geography, history, business, etc. may connect to different concepts and content pulled from the information on the map. Ultimately, it will fall upon the teacher to artfully connect and draw the potential flood of questions towards specific learning objectives and curriculum. But the formation of questions, the discovery of new information and the formulation of answers will be driven by student inquiry and curiosity.
Discover this for yourself by visiting Google’s Trends. Select the menu icon and browse through the different trends and charts around Google’s search statistics. Selecting the Explore menu item will allow you filter information by region, category and/or time. The results you get back in return may be surprising and provocative, and it is then where new questions begin.
What do you use to inspire student inquiry?
– K. Takahashi