The Wonder Wall

By Gala Heimer (5th year) & Abigail Blair (6th year)

Last spring, a group of Quest’s Elementary teachers were having a discussion about ways of continuing to cultivate the spirit of inquiry in the Upper Elementary classroom. Based on an article from the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM, they arrived at the idea of a “Wonder Wall”. The Wonder Wall was presented to Upper Elementary in September of 2019 and is an opportunity for the students to learn about any questions they may have. It lives under the whiteboard in Upper Elementary. 

If the students have questions about anything they want to know more about, they can write it out on a post-it and stick it on the Wonder Wall. Then, if they want to learn more about it, the student can explore the topic by looking for more information by reading books about that subject.

Questions on the Wonder Wall can be anything a child is curious about. A child can put as many post-its on the wall as they desire, but only the ones they are especially curious about will he or she study. After the student reads about it, they will write something on their question and share it with the community if she or he chooses to. Other people’s questions can also serve as inspiration for exploration and further questions.

A student answers the question when they want to learn more about it, and can present it at any time. The presentation can range from a paragraph or two to a full blown research project. 

Here are some examples of questions:

  • Are bubbles a liquid or a gas?
  • Why are octopods’ heads so squishy? 
  • When was the first film made and who made it?
  • What are black holes?
  • What was the Mount Toba catastrophe?
  • How do birds fly?
  • Why do we have dreams?

Based on personal interest, students are currently researching such diverse subjects as the history of chocolate and how it is made, to how the Pueblo Indians built their homes. Most recently, a student received a lesson on the Periodic Table of Elements, sparking a wonder about atoms. The student asked, “What is used to measure the atomic weight of elements?” Click here to read what she found out.

The Wonder Wall encourages students to wonder about and explore all the questions they may have, and empowers them to seek those answers on their own.