Tag Archives: powerful question

Emission statement

Many of us have heard about how cattle production contributes more to greenhouse emissions than cars, but have you ever wondered just how they calculate a cow’s emissions? I have, so I will share what I came across today.

Measuring methane production from a cow

The inflatable tank on the cow’s back is connected directly to the cow’s first stomach through holes in its ribs!  The data from this research is being used to determine how much Argentina’s agriculture contributes to climate change. 

If you are planning a classroom discussion around climate change, try using this image as a stimulus. In fact, take a good look at PopSci’s entire gallery of amazing science images, because many are provocative, intriguing and can be used to engage and inform your students in classroom discussions.

LHC back in business

The world’s biggest atom smasher is back on track.


iny particles zoom around the Large Hadron Collider's 27 km underground tunnel

The Large Hadron Collider was switched on this week and the last time we checked on their Twitter account it was all going well. The scientists will continue in their work to unravel our understanding of how the universe came into exisitence. The project has been beset by problems and delays since opening in 2008 but has been back up and running since mid March this year. This week should see the LHC running at half its potential power capacity.

The LHC has great discussion potential for the classroom, with many teachers having had plenty of questions from pupils who want to know if we are all going to be swallowed by a black hole created by it. (The answer is no,  in case you were worried!) The Science Museum’s Antenna team first reported on the LHC back in 2007 and put together this handy mini site with all the back ground information you need for a discussion.

Looking for ideas to kick of the discussion? Try our handy powerful question generator activity to link the topic to what your students love talking about.

Top Techniques : Powerful Questions

‘Would you wear second hand pants to save the Earth?’

How do you get your students interested in discussing a topic? Well one simple technique to hook them is to ask a powerful question. The Talk Science team have devised an easy way to come up with great questions that link what your students are interested in outside of the classroom with what you want them to discuss in lessons. Click here to find out how we do it and you too will find yourself asking your students great questions like :

‘Do boys pollute more than girls?’

and many more…….

Should pandas be left to face extinction?

TV naturalist Chris Packham said last week in a newspaper article that pandas should be left to face extinction. It’s a shocking statement from a man who is well-known for his love of animals, and one that will provoke strong reactions from your students.

Pandas appeal to peoples’ emotional side, and they have become a poster-child for conservation. As Packham says “It’s easier to raise money for something fluffy”. 

Giant Panda


But panda conservation is expensive, and due to the animals’ limited habitat and extremely restricted diet, it is perhaps unlikely to be ultimately successful. Doesn’t it make more sense to use the same money to protect other species which are more likely to survive in the long-run?

Dr Mark Wright, chief scientist at the WWF maintains that the pandas’ natural habitat in china should be conserved, not just to keep the pandas from extinction, but also the myriad of other wildlife living in the same area.

One way to get your students to really engage with these issues is to run a marketplace activity. Assign each of your students a persona, get them to research the issues and then present their case to the class.

Some ideas for groups include – Chris Packham, WWF workers, rainforest conservationists. You could even get some of the children to be the spokesperson for pandas, or to represent the Yangtze river dolphin, an animal that has become extinct very recently and was sadly much too ugly to attract much in the way of conservation cash. 

Is extinction just a part of life on earth? Do your students feel comfortable deciding which species to save? Can any of your students describe the WWF logo?

Find out more about the marketplace activity or check out our question generating activity - guarenteed to brighten up your lesson planning.