Math Goggles #4 – Art of Asking Questions

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Forty shades of green

The first few Math Goggles challenges were all about noticing math around us. Let’s do something different today. Today, join me in the game of asking questions. If you are new to Math Goggles and not sure what to do and why do it, check out this page first.

How hard could it be, to ask questions? Well, it depends on the types of questions and why you are asking them. We are pretty good about asking practical question such as “How to remove grass stains from shirts?” or “How to fix a leaky faucet?” We are also very good at “How many times have I told you?” and “When are you going to clean up your toys?” Another category we excel at are questions that we already know the answers to, such as “How much is 8+3?” or “What are the colors of the rainbow?”

This time around, we will try to ask very different questions:

  • Specific questions – Ask, “Is there some kind of a hidden pattern here?” instead of “Where is math in this?” or “What parts do you see on this device?” instead of a “What is it?”
  • Questions for which you don’t have an answer – If you look at a yellow circle, do not ask “What shape is this?” and “What color is this?” You already know that much. Ask, “What other things of that color do you see?” or “Does this shape remind me of anything?”
  • Personal questions – Questions can be about anything, including math, as long as they are also about the person you are asking, yourself. The previous example, “What other things of that color do I see?” is even stronger if you ask, “What other things of that color do I like?” 

You are not being evaluated. It is not a test of your creativity, intelligence, math skills or anything like that. So here is an even more important rule:

  •  In this game, there are no wrong or stupid questions.

One final thing before we get started. Sometimes we are afraid to ask questions because we think we will end up having to figure out answers to them. Not in this game. Sure, some questions you come up with, you might want to investigate further. But there is no requirement or expectation to do so. So, the last rule of the game is

  • Ask without worrying about answering.

Here’s how to play this week’s challenge. Find a beautiful image (in a magazine, online or just look out of a window) that makes you feel good – energized, relaxed, entertained, curious, so on. Come up with just one question about what you see. If you feel like coming up with more than one question, do it. If you want to try asking questions about another image, do it. If you want to stop and investigate possible answers, do it. If you want to play this game online, check out Dan Meyer’s 101 Questions.

The question I asked myself is “how many shades of green exist and how many of those can I notice around my house?”

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