Write a scientific question based in history

This exercise is a part of Educator Guide: Chemists Crack the Code to Ancient Roman Concrete / View Guide

Directions for teachers

Use this short activity as a warm-up or an exit ticket in class. After students read the article “These chemists cracked the code to long-lasting Roman concrete,” ask them to follow the prompts below to write their own scientific question about a historical artifact. For guidance on writing scientific questions, check out the lesson plan “Why ask scientific questions?

Tapping history for clues

Think of a historical artifact or structure that you’ve studied. It could be anything from a clay pot found in an archaeological dig to the pyramids of Giza.

1. What artifact or structure did you choose? What about your object makes you curious? What questions do you have?

2. How could you use science to answer one of your questions?

3. Write a scientific question about your chosen historical artifact. Because your object might be quite old and not have a written record, there will be limits to what you can discover. Consider those limitations when developing your question. Scientific questions should lead to measurable results, and the variables under consideration need to be controllable. Investigation using observation, scientific tools or computer simulations should help answer your question.