This post is the first in a series of posts from Manifest Curiosity that details they hows, whens, and whys of Curiosity Based Learning.
What If…? 8 Step Process
The What If…? 8 Step Process is a process that begins with raw curiosity and results in collaboratively designed action steps. Since one of the features of the those action steps is that the first step must be taken that day, participants are powered by physical actions over emotions in the execution of their actions. In order to provide pathways for the lifetime of those actions, there are also a variety of Curiosity Based Learning add-ons such as “Steps-in-Between” that can be introduced in addition to any of the other 8 Core Processes.
Take any topic; can be random, intentional, or from The Book of What If…?
For example: Dinosaurs
Who discovered the first dinosaur bones? Why aren’t there any dinosaurs today? Why do kids love dinosaurs so much? Why isn’t there a dino emoji? How do dinosaurs get their names? What color were dinosaurs?
Get into Groups
Each group should have:
8 or fewer people in each group
Shared piece of blank paper (butcher paper works best, but notebook paper works fine)
Crayons (markers, pens, pencils, all work, too; but crayons are fun!)
Get ready to go through the next three steps (Dump, Discuss, Design)
Consensus “What if…?” Question
Groups collaborate to create a consensus “what if…?” question. Combine your curiosities with the focus/purpose of the class/activity in a “what if…?” question.
Example: What If...Dinosaurs Didn’t Go Extinct?
Write. Draw. Dump whatever is in your head when you think about that “what if…?” question. These can be single words, complete sentences, pictures--whatever is floating in your head (whether you think it’s related or not) needs to GET ON THAT PAPER!
Share perspectives. Ask questions. Connect words, pictures, etc. from the idea dump on the paper.
Examples (found in The Book of What If…?):
“I would train a dinosaur to let me ride it to school.”
“The bigger the dinosaurs would be hunted and the smaller ones domesticated as animals of labor.”
“If dinosaurs never went extinct, humans would have very slim chances of survival with how dangerous the world around us would be. Perhaps this would create a different society that focuses more on survival and protection rather than the society we have developed in which survival isn’t always immediately on our minds.”
Collaborate as groups to design 3-5 sequential action steps. Step #1 should be a step taken today.
Example from The Book of What If…? for the entry “What If...Dinosaurs Didn’t Go Extinct?”
We should inspect how well our homes are protected from animals, big and small
Google “safe and natural ways to keep pests out”
Create a step-by-step action plan to give your parents in case you ever see pests invading your space
Groups share their action steps, insights, and map out what they will be investigating together and independently. In addition, individuals are encouraged to share anything they experienced they think would be valuable to the entire group.
There are a myriad of ways to “do” after sharing. For example:
Repeat the What If 8 Step Process with new curiosities
Start the action steps you designed
Begin independent investigations on curiosities; what else can you learn about from them?
Connect your curiosities, discussions, and learning to past curiosities, discussions, learning, projects, and actions or behaviors.
Gather a community to collaborate with you on your action steps
Share your actions with the world
Stay Curious with Manifest Curiosity Part VI: What? to Wow! (W?2W!)
Curiosity Based Learning