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Developing a Testable QuestionPlanning to Test Your Question  |  Understanding/Analyzing Your Data  |  Explaining It All  |  Additional Resources

Developing a Testable Question


So, you've been tasked with becoming a scientist. Lucky you! You already have what it takes, like curiosity. Yes - first and foremost, scientists are curious. They look at the world around them and ask questions like who, what, where, when, why, and how.

How to be curious

  • Look for problems
  • Review past experiments
  • Find other ways
  • Rethink your views
  • Research your opinions
  • Search for information
  • Build models
  • Debate with peers
  • Talk to people with views different from yours
  • Make sound arguments

Light Bulb of AwarenessTo learn more about how to be curious and act like a scientist 
view this document!

So you have some curiosities. Now what?

Got an idea of something you are curious about? Great! Now let’s take that giant idea and scale it down to something you can study. For example, if you are curious about, “How can we control the worldwide threat of malaria?” you might consider starting with a smaller scale question such as, “Which way of addressing the threat of malaria should receive more funding: developing a vaccine, spraying with DDT, or mandating individual practices such as eliminating standing water or using treated bed nets?”

Light Bulb of AwarenessWatch these videos to see real USDA Forest Service scientists talking about how they develop testable. questions from their curiosity.

Turning Your Curiosity into a Question

Often, scientists are drawn to answer certain types of questions. Sometimes they are interested in observing and documenting the current state of a natural event. Other times, they are interested in tracking how something changes over time, or even experimenting to see how certain conditions affect their topic of interest. We've provided some examples below:

Curiosity Testable Question
Why is the sky blue? When is the sky more or less blue?

What objects make the sky appear more or less blue? To what degree?
Is rain polluted? What are the levels of acidity in the rain water in my backyard?

Is that rain water cleaner than tap water? Is it safe to drink?


Light Bulb of AwarenessLook for problems at home or in school.


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You can learn more about turning your curiosity into a question at Science Buddies or the resources found on our resources page.