• Training in finding operational research questions, for a subject independent topic, which could be verified by means of an experiment.
  • Doing this by giving them a concrete object to work with.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Outline the role of the teacher
  • Provide direct experiences of inquiry

Suggested format:

Work in pairs, have copy of short-eared bug-o-copter (keep long-eared ones back for later)/and a paperclip.

At the end all questions will be gathered on a list.


  • Cut out the bug. Cut the line between the ears, fold one ear to the front one to the back along the dotted line.
  • Let it fall to the ground.
  • Try out and write down as many verifiable research questions about the bug-o-copters as you can think. (Questions which start with ‘What … if’, or How…)
  • When the trainer notices that groups cannot find more questions, he can hand out the long-eared bug-o-copter to provide them more ideas.


  • Teachers worked enthusiastically
  • They found a large number of investigations.
  • Not all investigations could be verified easily, like what would happen if you drop the bug on the southern hemisphere, or if you drop it on the Moon.


  • We chose this activity because it is suitable for teachers from all subjects, because it is fun working with this odd-looking creature and because it can be finished in 30 minutes.
  • It is not about a ‘hard science’ investigation, so ideas for a similar activity but then within the subject-content for each subject would be useful.
  • Afterwards, we also discussed how the questions could be verified in an experiment.
  • This activity was used as a replacement for activity 1c, which was not operational enough for us. I bought the book ‘why penguins feet don’t freeze’, but I found many of the questions in this book fall in the category ‘petty facts’ which cannot easily be verified, or I understood wrongly what was meant (a worked out example on the establish site could be very useful).