Investigation, INquiry, and STEM Training 

Handout: Investigable Questions

Slides: Investigation, Inquiry, and STEM  

See the resources below to learn more about inquiry and investigation in STEM, and discover new ideas to try out in your own learning environment. If you wish to learn more, or are interested in customizable training opportunities, contact us


Scientific Investigation and Investigable Questions

Investigating and exploring in science (and STEM more broadly) often involves the classic scientific method. And a huge part of the scientific method is inquiry, or questions. 

Investigable questions are a type of questions that are capable of being investigated. Investigable questions are ones that you have the resources (be it time, knowledge, tools, etc.) to answer. 

Non-investigable questions are ones that are unanswerable. Non-answerable questions might include philosophical or opinion-based ones, "big" questions (such as "how" or "why" questions), or "ask an expert" questions. 

Why are investigable questions valuable? 

Both non-investigable and investigable questions are valuable. But encouraging investigable questions in STEM environments can help learners be more engaged and hands-on in their STEM learning. 

Selected Resources: Investigation

Blosser, Patricia. How to Ask the Right Questions. (2000). NSTA. 

Discovery Education Science Fair Central: Investigation.

Sharkawy, Azza. "A quest to improve: helping students learn how to pose investigable questions." Science and Children. (2010). 


The Importance of STEM Role Models

Women and ethnic minority groups are still highly underrepresented in STEM fields. This is not due to a lack of ability and interest, but rather due to factors such as stereotypes, bias, fixed-mindset thinking, and a lack of relatable role models. 

It is important for mentors and educators working with youth to combat stereotypes (such as ideas that STEM professionals are "nerds") and to promote positive concepts, such as emphasizing how STEM skills are life skills. 


Inquiry in action 

Inquiry in action 


What is Co-Inquiry? 

Co-Inquiry, or Cooperative Inquiry, is a method of teaching and learning that focuses on exploration, collaboration, communication, discovery, and open questions among groups of educators and learners. 

How can Co-Inquiry play a positive role in STEAM and other learning environments? 

Co-Inquiry principles and practices can be a way to foster participation and hands-on learning in STEAM and other types of learning environments. Aside from fostering more active environments, co-inquiry practices can also help educators and learners ask questions that are more open and investigable.

Selected Resources: Inquiry

Abramson, Shareen. "Co-Inquiry: documentation, communication, action." Voices of Practitioners. 3.2 (2008): 1-10. 

Bell, Randy L., Lara Smetana, and Ian Binns. "Simplifying Inquiry Instruction." The Science Teacher 72.7 (2005): 30-33. 

Bulba, Dana. "What is Inquiry-Based Science?" Smithsonian Science Education Center. (2014). 

Inquiry Strategies for the Journey North Teacher. 

Just Science Now: What is Inquiry? 

NSTA Position Statement: Scientific Inquiry (2004). 

Rankin, Lynn. "Guest Editorial: Pathways to Inquiry." Science and Children. 48.6 (2011): 8-9. 

Selected Resources: STEM Role Models

Hill, Catherine, Christianne Corbett, and Andresse St Rose. Why so few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. American Association of University Women. 1111 Sixteenth St NW, Washington, DC 20036, 2010. 

Modi, K., J. Schoenberg, and K. Salmond. "Generation STEM: What girls say about science, technology, engineering, and math." A Report from the Girl Scout Research Institute. New York, NY: Girl Scouts of the USA (2012). 

National Science Foundation. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. (2015). 

TS, US Commission on Civil Rights. Encouraging Minority Students to Pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Careers. (2010).