8 Questions to Ask During Classroom Demonstrations for Better Student Participation

The video below shows a demonstration I did in class last year.

You can see that it’s a crowd pleaser and allows you to be quite showmanlike in your delivery!

The students loved it, but I had to ensure they got the correct learning outcomes from the demonstration. I also wanted to direct my questioning to ensure that they participated appropriately.

So I came up with 8 questions that can be asked during every classroom demonstration.

But First – Bloom’s Taxonomy

These 8 questions have been formulated to meet the needs of every ability of student in the class.

I have used Bloom’s Taxonomy for this.

Bloom’s taxonomy is a classification of the different set of skills a teacher sets for their students.

It is summarised in the Bloom’s Taxonomy Key Verb Table below:


Bloom’s taxonomy is hierarchical and learning at higher levels is dependent on having attained knowledge and skills at lower levels.

Your students will all have different pre-existing knowledge of the subject and they will all have different capabilities of learning – so it is important that you know if you have a range of abilities in the class – it is important that you direct your questioning at different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

8 Questions

  • What do you think will happen when …?

    Bloom’s Taxonomy – Level 3 – Apply

    Demonstrations can be notoriously unreliable. Even if you’ve done the demonstration a number of times – you may not even know what will happen when….!!

    It’s a always a good idea to encourage your students to predict. They should be comfortable with using their existing knowledge to formulate hypotheses. After all, it is a key part of the Scientific Method.

    So before you turn that knob…
    Ask them, “What do you think will happen when…?”

  • Explain why you think ...?

    Bloom’s Taxonomy – Level 2 – Understand

    The art of explanation is one that every student could develop.

    Exam questions and scientific write-ups all require students to explain the physics around them. It is a difficult skill and you can help your students by encouraging them to explain scientific phenomena as often as possible.

    A list of key scientific vocabulary on the board can help student develop their explanation skills during classroom demonstrations.

  • What do you see when …?

    Bloom’s Taxonomy – Level 1 – Remember

    Although this may seem like the easiest question – it does require that students use the correct vocabulary.

    Insist that students use the correct terms when describing what they see.

  • Why did … happen?

    Bloom’s Taxonomy – Level 2 – Understand

    This question encourages students to link actions together during the demonstration.

    If you do this, then that happens.

    It starts to build associations in their minds and ultimately helps them learn.

  • What evidence is there for …?

    Bloom’s Taxonomy – Level 4 – Analyse

    This question can get quite deep!

    You are asking your students for facts or information that supports whether a proposition is true or not.

    This question has often led me to explain that any scientific theory is deductive. That every scientific theory has been repeatedly tested and confirmed. That it only exists because it hasn’t been disproved.

    BUT what if (even just once) it can’t be repeated?

    If you can’t rely on the evidence, you can’t rely on the theory.

    Probably a bit deep for most classes, but it fits in well with the Theory of Knowledge (if you teach IB).

  • What does the evidence tell us about …?

    Bloom’s Taxonomy – Level 5 – Evaluate

    It is important that students understand the validity of a demonstration. If you google “What does the evidence tell us about…?” you will find a number of articles on a range of “hot” topics in the media.

    e.g. What evidence is there that mobile phone masts cause cancer?

    Students will need the skill of evaluation of evidence at every stage in their lives – otherwise they will grow up believing that every mad claim in the media is real!

  • What do you think would happen if …?

    Bloom’s Taxonomy – Level 6 – Create

    Push your students to think beyond the syllabus. You will be surprised at what they come up with!

If using Guzled Schemes of Work, you’ll find that we provide every opportunity to present a successful demonstration to your class: we list the equipment required, suggest possible questions to ask, highlight any potential pitfalls and produce a student worksheet for every demonstration (including answers).

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About the Author

Sally Weatherly

Sally is the Guzled founder and, more importantly, a physics teacher. She led a large and vibrant department for 7 years, after training to teach in London. She is an IB Physics textbook author, Fellow of the IoP, Entrepreneur, Advisor for the AQA, Trustee for Dynamic Earth and an IoP Teacher Network Co-ordinator.