Do our classrooms inspire and cultivate intellectual curiosity in children?

Article written by HMS weather, the weather resource

Our 13th post in our December series on “Intellectual Curiosity” comes via Robyn Hrivnatz. Robyn has taught both junior high and elementary Science and English Language Arts as well as worked in an Instructional Technology role in Katy ISD and Lamar CISD. She is a Microsoft Innovative Educator Master Trainer, Discovery Educator Network Star Educator, certified SMART Trainer and an active member of ISTE, TCEA, NSTA, Classroom 2.0, and several educational technology Special Interest Groups. In the summer of 2011, she also had an opportunity of a lifetime to be one of two educators in the U.S. to be a part of the first Partners in Learning Global Institute.


When I was a child, I used to watch shows like MacGyver. I would often take found objects around the house that were essentially garbage, and use items like tape, glue, nails, paint, and of course glitter and build things from the “junk” because I wanted to be an inventor/designer of something new. I also used to own a home chemistry kit and often found myself trying to simulate science experiments at home from household items. I know what you are thinking, and no, I wasn’t that kid trying to make a bomb. I just was curious by nature to discover how things worked and what would happen if things were altered. Just like MacGyver, I was always looking for ordinary items around the house that I could use to create something new. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home with a set of supportive parents who were always willing to let me build that dining room fort, assist me in my household chemistry experiments, and provide the “junk” and tools to build something out in my dad’s workshop.

So when I think about intellectual curiosity, I immediately think of Cane’s arcade.

With only cardboard boxes, a great imagination, and the loving support of his father, this child’s curiosity has sparked the interest of not only of his community but the world.

So, my question is, how do our classrooms support this creative intellectual curiosity? Does your classroom have supplies readily available for students to create, explore, and construct? Are you the educator who when a learner asks how to do something or if they can do something you give them the encouragement to problem solve and tackle the question on hand?

I think the main key is having supplies readily available to experiment with. It’s much easier learning things hands on. I think we see these types of classrooms more frequently in the elementary setting, but these exploratory skills need to embraced in all classrooms. We need to support the creative inquisitive nature of learners and foster a classroom in which learners can feel free to collaboratively work to construct knowledge, which often begins with an empty cardboard box or popsicle stick.

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