FYIC project asks about the power of questions

Students begin removing Post-It notes from the wall as the project ends
Students begin removing Post-It notes from the wall as the project ends

“Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?” “What makes people’s taste buds different?” “If a tomato is a fruit, does that make ketchup a smoothie?” These questions and many more like them appeared on Post-It notes stuck to a wall of the Taylor Auditorium lobby as part of a First-Year Integrated Core project.

The ESP 103 “Why Challenge” looked at “The Power of Questions.” And while some of the questions may appear to be silly, instructor David Eyman said the idea behind the project and its questions is anything but silly. “Most of us live our lives on autopilot. We never really take the time to think about or challenge the way that we live,” he explained. “Sometimes it really pays to challenge the way we think. Sometimes it pays to challenge the things that we are curious about.”

The students were given a few days in which they were to think of a question, put it on the note, and put it up on the wall with their classmates’ notes. “It's about a two-minute exercise, but it might take several hours to actually think of something deep enough to use and deep enough to work with,” Eyman told the students as he introduced the project. “The challenge is to bridge curiosity with divergent thinking.”

“Why are some people better at art than others?” was written on Megan Cantwell’s note. “I asked that because I think it’s weird that, for example, a 5-year-old kid can draw better than adults. Where does that come from in their mind?”  

Brett Bossart asked, “Why is it easier to drink fruit than to eat it?” because, “it says there’s three and a half fruits in my drink, and I’m thinking to myself that ‘I could not eat three and a half apples right here at once.’”

The goals of the idea that Eyman and the other FYIC instructors posed to the students wasn’t lost on James Bjorkman. “Rhetorical questions really make the mind race, and they really get your entrepreneurial thinking going out there,” he noted.

“After I put my question up on the wall, I took time to read over some other ones and just value what we take for granted,” Mike Sforza recalled.

“Go a little deeper, have fun with this, and see if maybe this brings something new to your life in terms of what you're curious about, and if it helps make you a more curious person with regard to your life,” he recommended.

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