The Answer is…

…Asking a good question. How we ask determines the answers we get. The core of this effort, to get people who are not and will never be interested in STEM careers to understand the power and primacy of scientific inquiry as the source of truth and knowledge, is going to hinge on collecting good questions.


So much science education is couched in the revelation from authority fallacy, and so much is about trying to turn kids on to an interest in the working of the universe. We shouldn’t want them believing that Mr. Wizard has the answers. This opens them to believing that Fox News, Ayatollah X, Bill Maher or Michael Moore have the answers. We want them to understand how to find answers, or at least respect the process and not the personalities.

Questions like what is the Higgs boson, what was the biggest dinosaur, or why is the sky blue, all beg for an answer from an authority. They are questions that are beyond the ability of an average person to discover the answer to on their own, they are the province of big science. But questions like: what is the shortest route to my school, what would happen if I never cleaned my room, how does my choice of shoes affect my friends, who can tickle whom, are questions we can answer of ourselves, and in trying, come to understand how to solve problems.

So the first step in this process is to collect questions. We have a chicken and egg problem here. We cannot make a program until we have a sufficiently large set of questions to address, but we cannot solicit questions until we have a program. Therefore we need to divise a system for collecting a large volume of authentic questions from which we can select. How can we do this?


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