LFU to elicit curiosity in Elementary classrooms

While looking at the Learning-for-Use framework, I can see the connections to BC’s new curriculum and the big idea that weaves through the science curricular competencies: demonstrate curiosity about the natural world (BC Ministry of Education, 2015). Within the three steps of the Learning-for-Use model, I noticed the process of eliciting curiosity through activities (Edelson, 2000). I think it’s important for teachers to create a learning environment that supports questioning and curiosity. As I’ve mentioned before, in my class we have a ‘Wonder’ wall, where students add questions on post-it notes as we work through a big idea. It’s a visual reminder for students that all questions are important.

Luce and Hsi (2004) measured students interests in topics of science. “In line with current research on interest, we view curiosity as context relevant, but also learner driven. The learner can express curiosity as fleeting observations of wonderment and noticing inconsistencies or finding novelty in an object or through activity. For our purposes, we refer to curiosity in the context of scientific practices, i.e., wonderment or intrigue about the kinds of investigation and explanations that science seeks. Examples include activities such as engaging in scientific-like wonderment, question asking, experimentation, tinkering, pursuing an idea or following up on an inconsistency in knowledge, and ways of making meaning in scientific pursuits” (Luce and Hsi, 2004). Technology can be integrated to support inquiry and activities within the science curriculum to provide deeper learning opportunities.

After exploring My World GIS, I can see the impact it would have on middle school students. This software provides a rich experience for students as they are able to manipulate maps, customize, and investigate data, rather than simply read data from a textbook. It brings the curricular content to life. In our science unit this year, we used Google Earth Tours to learn about glaciers and how wind, water, and ice change the shape of the land. Students were amazed to see how they could manipulate the information and it sparked curiosity as students made their own observations. The next time I teach this unit, I will use Google Story Maps and include a 3D tour for scaffolding. What I appreciate about this software is that it motivates learning by introducing and teaching learners how to observe and explore through direct experience, communicate and describe processes, and apply new knowledge through hands-on activities (Edelson, 2000). I would combine both My World and Google Earth to explore land changes, and help provide hands-on inquiry opportunities for learners. Google Earth can be accessed at home, further supporting independent inquiry and encouraging students to take ownership over their learning.

How I would teach a grade 3 science unit using the LFU framework:

Big Idea: Wind, water, and ice change the shape of the land.

Sample questions to support inquiry with students:

  • How is the shape of the land changed by environmental factors?
  • What are landforms?
  • What landforms do you have in your local area?


“The motivation to acquire special skills or knowledge within a setting in which the student is already reasonably engaged” (Edelson, 2001).

I would use Google Earth and Google Story Maps to elicit curiosity. I would have students question and predict in small groups, and then create their own map and share with peers. (Ex. Groups could look at different landforms on Google Earth).


The second step in the learning process is the development of new knowledge (Edelson, 2001). I would use activities that provide students with direct experience. For example, YouTube clips, Brain Pop Jr videos, and Flocabulary rap songs. Students would work through structured inquiry to find answers to questions, and independent inquires on areas they would like to investigate further. 

The third step involves reorganizing knowledge, connecting it to knowledge, and reinforcing it to support its future retrieval and use (Edelson, 2001).

I would provide opportunities for students to apply what they learned in a meaningful way, and have students reflect on what they’ve learned, and how it connects to the world around them. Students could use iMovie to create a story or create a coding quest through Scratch to share their learning (also a great example of STEM: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/3090469/)


Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(3), 355-385. http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/

Luce, M. R., & Hsi, S. (2015). Science‐Relevant curiosity expression and interest in science: An exploratory study. Science Education, 99(1), 70-97. doi:10.1002/sce.21144


  1. Great post, another platform you might want to consider is Google Expeditions https://edu.google.com/intl/en_ca/expeditions/
    We have been using it to take virtual field trips all over the world. One student acts as the guide and the rest the explorers, so apart from the immersive experience it offers it is a great confidence builder for students who can be a bit shy in social situations. So much of this new technology helps to level the playing field in that competency area that our new BC curriculum is centred around.

    1. Thank you for sharing! I have used Google Expeditions with the google cardboard, however we didn’t have enough devices in the primary grades to make it as meaningful. We were rotating two students at a time on my iPhone and old iPod. I’ve heard in the intermediate grades that many students have their own phones which makes it way easier. I do love the idea of the guide. I will definitely borrow that. When you use this, does everyone have a device? Or how does this play out in your classroom?

      1. In grade 5 about half of the students have devices so it works out well as they will share. Our school this year is investing in 10 Zenfones to use in the google cardboards we have so we will always have a set on hand.

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