iWonder and Abstraction…what’s it all about?

Hi All!

A few of us are dabbling in computational thinking and the role it plays in citizen science. One concept in CT is abstraction.

Abstraction is, essentially, the idea of getting rid of the information/data we don’t need, in order to generalize solutions.

WB teachers that are working on the TAG team practiced abstracting by taking a look at some current iWonder questions and identifying what we needed and didn’t need. We challenged each other to go through current iWonders and try to “abstract”.

Well, I’ve been going through the iWonder page, and have found it a bit more challenging than I expected. The tricky part, for me, isn’t identifying the “unnecessary parts”…it’s figuring out how to help students do that. For example, in our example below, I could pretty easily see that the “living room” was probably a bit too much, too specific. We could be more abstract to get to the heart of what this student meant.


“I wonder if a living room has more aerosoles than a classroom between Monday through Friday collected by the home made particle collector”


Proposed, abstracted, question:

“I wonder if more people in a space would effect the amount of aerosols in the air?


We could then take this more abstract question, and build an investigation. Easy peasy. BUT – how do we get students to embrace “specific” in a SMART question, without being TOO specific? 

What do iWonder?
I am wondering if we need a specific lesson sequence on doing just this – walking students through some iWonder questions and having them get rid of the “extra” stuff.

Do any of you do that?

Do you build lessons around playing in the iWonder space and having students make suggestions?

I’d love to hear what you are all doing – and would happily weave it all together into some lesson sequences in our iWonder module.

Any thoughts?



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