Chemistry Is Better With Questions

Packback students are asking great questions every day, engaging in discussion and encouraging curiosity. This is just one of the amazing questions that students ask on Packback Questions every day.

The organic chemistry student goes on to explain why she’s so interested on the potential of man-made enzymes:

I found section 7.5 particularly interesting because it touched upon the function of enzymes and how they are far superior to our synthesis of molecules by chemical reactions.

I too started to envy how effective enzymes are and questioned whether one-day man-made enzymes could be engineered or synthesized to provide the same function to chemical pathways. This could allow for the reproduction of complex chemical reactions in vitro that are currently impossible to reproduce outside of a living cell.

Instead of just passively reading section 7.5 in her chemistry textbook and moving on, she uses that knowledge and intrigue to create a discussion where there once was nothing.

It’s in these types of discussions that new knowledge is created. And the catalyst to great discussions is often great questions.

That’s why at Packback, we believe that the best learning is done when students ask really great questions. The best questions are often the culmination of the top levels of critical thinking in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

In this particular example, the student is invested in encouraging dialogue and finding out how other students would answer her question.

The student wants to understand more about enzymes so she asks:

Would it be worth researching the development of man-made enzymes? How could this even be accomplished? What would the significance of such a development be in fields like medicine, chemistry and engineering?

This is her engaging with the stages of application and analysis. She’s not sure of whether it is possible to create man-made enzymes, but she wants to know that if it can be done, what would its effect be and is it worth pursuing or not. She opens up the floor for people to refute her, to agree with her, and to share in the feeling of excitement. Even further, the student indulges in her curiosity to create a theory of what the future could look like:

I know recently a lot of research has been devoted to nanostructures and metamaterials. This could be a really cool way to approach the man-made enzyme problem.

Instead of replicating, transcribing and translating DNA to mRNA to amino acids that make up proteins, we could instead create 3D carbon structures that also possess just the right atoms in just the right places to lower the activation energy of a reaction.

Now the moment of truth. Do you think your average college student would engage with her excitement and new ideas? Or would they continue to passively read the chemistry textbook?

It turns out, they want to engage.

Here’s another example of a student adding to the knowledge pool:

Together the students are creating a community “pool of knowledge” as they discuss and work towards satisfying the original student’s curiosity.

This question even prompted the professor to invest a thought:

When one student takes the time to critically think about a question they have in mind, they inspire others to critically think about the answers they have to contribute. It becomes a chain-reaction of the practice of critical thinking.

That’s how high levels of critical thought are built using Packback Questions.

When students answer questions so willingly and openly, other students get to analyze and evaluate multiple viewpoints and make their own judgment.

Additionally, by asking high-level questions that invite challenging, interesting discussion, the students create a community of curiosity around psychology that is engaging and fun.

We believe that with Packback Questions, these students will carry more curiosity and higher critical thinking skills into whatever they choose to pursue.

Written by Evan Le

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