Young girl looking at a science exhibit with a curious expression.

12 activities & tools to build curiosity

Resources to inspire curiosity in every classroom every day

Building social and emotional-learning (SEL) skills such as curiosity requires face-to-face interaction, meaningful discussion, and reflection. Edtech is no complete substitute for that, but there are tools that can supplement the development of character in the classroom and at home. According to Character Lab, curiosity is: a strong desire to learn or know something—a search for information for its own sake.

While some tools focus specifically on building curiosity, the websites and apps that you use daily (in all subjects) can be used to promote inquisitiveness, too. You don’t have to stop using the tools you love or toss out your lesson or curricular plans to start developing SEL. Below we have included some tips, tools, and actionable ideas for seamlessly integrating curiosity and life skills-building into your content classroom.

Why build curiosity?

To some, curiosity suggests actively seeking out challenges and new experiences. While that’s partly true, studies suggest that curiosity has a deeper impact on learning. Scientists at the University of California, Davis, found that brain activity increased when participants were more curious about certain questions, resulting in greater quick recall as well as long-term memory.

Related: Bringing the 5 Cs into your classroom

For teachers, this means students’ curiosity might be harnessed to promote more meaningful learning—although what’s most meaningful about curious exploration is the path, not the destination. It’s up to teachers to help students realize that while technology can make the discovery process easy, finding an answer from an internet search tends to be much less satisfying than the struggle it took to get there. The good news is that student curiosity isn’t in short supply, and while some students seek understanding more than others, all have the ability to push the limits of what is known. If educators successfully nurture curiosity in the classroom, students might begin to challenge the status quo—like one 16-year-old who worked to develop a cheaper, faster cancer-detection system—and transform the world as we know it.

Take action

  • Set aside time for students to play and tinker with ideas, tools, emotions, beliefs, and materials in the classroom.
  • Challenge students to not accept everything at face value and to rethink historical or standard ways and methods.
  • Have students practice asking good questions and incorporate them into a project-based learning experience.
  • Make sure the technology you use doesn’t take the place of, but instead supplements, face-to-face interaction.
  • Using our Digital Citizenship Curriculum? Both our student interactives and lessons already foster key SEL skills.
  • Visit some other excellent SEL resources, including CASEL, Character Lab, Edutopia, and Ashoka.
  • Think about the digital tools you’re already using in the classroom. Can you find a creative way to use them to model curiosity? Check out our suggestions below!

Directly target curiosity

See our Edtech That Fuels Interest-Driven Learning list for more curiosity-focused tools.

1. Ted-Ed
Short videos and animations from the brightest minds support a kid’s sense of wonder about the world. Create a lesson right on the site or explore a collection of organized content, such as Math in Real Life, to get students energized.

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