Wonderland red roses

Inquiry-based learning: Curiosity

Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge. In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

In these activities set we're going to feed our curiosity by meeting some famous thinkers, exploring different thinking styles and looking at some of the amazing achievements curiosity can bring about. And because we're ACMI, we'll be thinking about how we can apply curiosity to making our own films, digital art, animations and videogames.

Recommended Year Levels: 3-10

Learning areas and capabilities: English, Science, History

Curious is how you feel when something tantalises you, surprises you, and sits just out of reach. The only way to get more is to chase after it.

It's how Alice felt when she saw a White Rabbit with a wristwatch race past her on the grass that lazy afternoon. A rabbit, with a wristwatch? Alice's curiosity overwhelmed her in that moment, and she simply couldn't stop herself from diving head first into Wonderland.

Curiosity is an important trait because it drives us to explore, investigate and dig deeper.

Get started with curiosity

What do we mean by curious?
1 Before you look anywhere, write your own definition of curiosity. If it helps, use examples from stories or from your own life to explain what you mean.
2 Now, look up the dictionary meaning of the word curious. Don't change your own description, but if you find something you like, you could add that to your work
3 Look up synonyms for the word curious and make a list of your favourite. Are some of them more positive, some more negative? Put a green dot next to the positive, and a red dot next to the negative
Albert Einstein smiling

Albert Einstein: a notoriously creative thinker

Discuss the quotes below about being curious
1 What does each quote mean?
2 Do you agree with these statements?
3 Which statement do you find most meaningful?

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.

Marie Curie

Curiosity killed the cat.

Proverb

Cheshire cat

The Cheshire Cat character might have been inspired by the above proverb

Building a character

Imagine a character whose motto is one of the quotes listed above.

1 What kinds of activities do they like to do? Do they have a curious job, or is curiosity more of an extracurricular activity?
2 What is their favourite thing to do?
3 Who is their best friend?
4 What is their greatest fear?
5 What do they look like? What do they wear?

Building a character

Imagine a character whose motto is one of the quotes listed above
1 What kinds of activities do they like to do? Do they have a curious job, or is curiosity more of an extracurricular activity?
2 What is their favourite thing to do?
3 Who is their best friend?
4 What is their greatest fear?
5 What do they look like? What do they wear?

Keep your notes about this character, as you may like to use them in a short story/short movie/videogame/animation.

Screen It resources 2018

None

Look at the image above. We used this as the poster for Screen It in 2018, when the theme was Curious.
1 What does it make you think of?
2 What stands out?
3 How does it portray the theme of curious?

The scientific method

David Attenborough Great Barrier Reef

An understanding of the natural world and what's in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfilment - David Attenborough

Scientists are always curious about the world around them. Their curiosity has led to major scientific breakthroughs. They have changed the way we do things and the way we live simply by asking the question: What will happen if I do this?

🔎Explore

Investigate some amazing discoveries from 2016 or visit the Australian Academy of Science website to discover answers to some of life’s mysteries.

1 Did you know about any of these discoveries? 
2 What surprised you?
3 Have you heard of other astounding discoveries or mysteries? 
4 Choose one discovery, article or video. How might you design a videogame from the information provided? Record your ideas in your production journal or pitch your game to your friends or classmates.

Experiment

Scientists use the scientific method to challenge and test their new ideas. They follow these steps:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Make a hypothesis
  3. Test the hypothesis with an experiment
  4. Analyse the results of the experiment
  5. Draw a conclusion
  6. Communicate results
  7. Plan an experiment using the scientific method. Discuss what you have learned.

Watch some classic episodes from the Curiosity Show (above).

1 What did you learn?
2 What are you curious to learn more about?

Watch this clip above to discover what camera techniques were used on the Curiosity Show to engage the audience (from 7:55-18:44).

In your production journal, plan an episode of a science show like the Curiosity Show. What techniques would you use to encourage your audience to be curious?

Creatively curious

I'm always wondering about the what-ifs, about the road not taken.

Jenny Han, author of To All the Boys I've Loved Before

To have a creative mind you need to be curious.

You need to challenge what you already know by asking new questions about the world. This is what great artists do. 

Have a look at 10 paintings that changed the world.

1 What is special about these paintings?
2 How did they change the world?
Blue Poles Jackson Pollock

Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock - one of the 10 paintings the article above claims changed the world

Explore

Choose one of these artists or art movements to research:

Artist

  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Tim Burton
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Salvador Dali
  • Del Kathrine Barton
  • Claude Monet
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Cindy Sherman

Art movements

  • Cubism
  • Impressionism
  • Dada
  • Biomorphism
  • Surrealism
  • Digital Art
  • Expressionism

How might your art research influence your design for a game, animation or film? You could consider character design, game design or set design.

Create

Choose an artwork that would be interesting to bring to life. Plan how you might animate it using stop-motion animation techniques. Think about what would move and how it would move. For inspiration, watch how this animator has created movement in famous paintings by Kandinsky. Rino Stefano Tagliafierro’s has also created a beautiful film that bring classical paintings to life.

Discover

Leonardo da Vinci was an artist and inventor who lived over 500 years ago. He was filled with curiosity about the world and studied science and engineering as well as art. He designed and invented many extraordinary things and some of his inventions are still used today.

Find out about one of Leonardo’s inventions.

Focus on one of Leonardo’s inventions:

1 What questions might Leonardo have asked himself before creating the design?
2 If you could ask Leonardo a question about his invention, what would it be?

Reflect

Write a short summary in your production journal about what you discovered and anything you learned that inspired you.

Remember to keep a note of anything that you want to include in your Screen It entry!

Congratulations!

You have completed Module 3.

Now take a look at Module 4 ...

Be curious

Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead.

Susan Sontag

Take the time to ask questions and be curious about even the most ordinary everyday objects. Become an explorer of the world.

Explore

Collect a number of everyday objects, e.g. a rock, pencil, shoe, phone and then choose one of these objects. Take two minutes to silently observe the object. Once the time is up, write a detailed description of what you have noticed and what makes your object interesting. You could also sketch the object in detail.

Reflect

Think about the everyday objects that feature in your favourite game, animation or film. What is the purpose of these objects? How might the objects you collected become part of a game, animation or film that you might create? Could they be characters, obstacles or tools? Make a note of your ideas in your production journal.

(For more ideas and inspiration, read Keri Smith’s book How to be an Explorer of the World.)

Congratulations!

You have completed Module 4.

Now take a look at Module 5 ...

Awaken your inner Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes

Most stories are driven by a mystery to be solved. We keep reading a book, viewing a film or playing a game because we are curious to see what will happen in the end.

Explore

Many people love the thrill and adventure of the mystery genre: clues, suspects, detectives and motives.

1 What are the codes and conventions of the mystery genre? How do you keep the audience feeling curious?
2 What videogames, films, TV shows, books or animations fit into this genre?
3 Share some favourite examples and try to identify the elements that make them successful.
Film noir background

Create

With your class or a group of friends, create a chain story that begins with an unopened package.

  • Each person adds a sentence to the story and each new addition begins with the words “The Package”.
  • The challenge is to keep the story going without revealing what is in the package until you get to the last person who can decide the solution to the mystery. (Or maybe you can brainstorm possible solutions as a group and then vote for your preferred outcome.)

In your production journal, plan or create a game based on the story your group created. Think about what style of game would you make, what the player would do and what challenges they might encounter.

Congratulations!

You have completed Module 5.

Now take a look at Module 6.

Inspiring page turners

The best way to inspire great storytelling, is to read great stories. Choose one of these books to engage your curiosity:

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  • Vanished by Sheela Chari
  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Murder is Bad Manners (A Wells and Wong Mystery) by Robin Stevens
  • The Case of the Firecrackers: Chinatown Mysteries by Laurence Yep
  • Southern Gothic: A Celine Caldwell Mystery by Bridgette Alexander
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon

Create

An important part of making a film, animation or game is to think about the characters involved and what they want. Imagine you are one of the characters from the story you have read. Film or animate a video diary from the perspective of one of these characters, or plan a game where one of these characters is the avatar.

Congratulations!

You have completed module 6.

Now take a look at Module 7 ...

Cabinet of Curiosities

Museums are full of curious things: items from the past, or things from faraway lands. 

Explore

Museums originally started as private collections of interesting objects. The room these objects were kept in was known as a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ (or, sometimes, a ‘wonder room’). Sometimes these curiosities were real and sometimes they had been made to trick people. For instance, different parts of animals may have been stuck together to fool people into believing in a new discovery. In fact, when the first platypus was displayed in Britain, that is exactly what scientific experts thought had happened. Explore the history of these remarkable (and often weird) collections.

Create

Create your own Cabinet of Curiosities by collecting strange or interesting objects. Consider: How might you display your collection? Will you label the objects? What stories might you share with visitors to your collection?

Reflect

In your journal, record anything new or inspiring that you learned from researching and creating your Cabinet of Curiosities. Don’t forget to make notes about anything you would like to include in your Screen It entry.

Congratulations!

You have completed Module 7.

Now take a look at Module 8.

Asking questions

Curious people ask questions and listen to the answers. It's important to know what questions to ask and how to ask them. 

Work together

In pairs, ask a question to find out information from a friend or classmate.

Did you get the information you needed or just a one word answer? Try rewording your questions so you receive more information. It’s not always an easy thing to do.

Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a yes or no. Questions that begin with who, what, where and when encourage people to provide more detailed information and those that begin with how, or why generally lead to thoughtful answers.

Try formulating open-ended questions, then follow these steps:

  • Ask the question.
  • Listen to the answer.
  • Dig deeper, ask a follow-up question.
  • Make sure not to interrupt.

Reflect on how well-planned questions can lead to better information.

Congratulations!

You have completed the modules on curiosity.