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Above Image: A student and teacher test the results of a learning activity © sturti ,

What is it?

The Testable Questions Toss-up learning strategy offers students a process to generate and practice writing testable questions that may be applied to conducting fair tests within an inquiry investigation. 

Why use it?

  • To support the development of questioning skills
  • To help students understand the basic structure and components of testable questions
  • To provide students with opportunities to generate and practice writing testable questions
  • To have students create testable questions that can be used to conduct inquiry investigations

How do I use it?

  • Before using this strategy, introduce students to the concept of a fair test. See Setting up a Fair Test.
  • Discuss with students how a specific question, called a testable question, is an essential part of a fair test and helps direct the set-up of a fair test.
  • You may also wish to introduce the terms independent variable and dependent variable before the activity. Alternately, introduce these terms as the task is undertaken and then review them during any follow-up to the activity. See Identifying Variables.
  • Print enough sets of the dice templates to provide a set of dice to every 2-3 students.
dice on a table

For a plant-based inquiry focus, use the Testable Questions Toss-up Dice Template for Plant Inquiry.

For other science inquiries you can customize the generic cube template provided, called Testable Questions Toss-up Dice Template.

  • Provide each student group with the dice templates, a Testable Questions Toss-up Tabletop Placemat and a Testable Questions Toss-up Recording Sheet.
  • Students construct each die by cutting around the perimeter of the cube template and folding the along the edges with the tabs facing inwards to form a cube. The words should be on the outside of the cube. Students should use glue on the tabs to fasten the structure.
  • In table pairs or small groups, have students take turns tossing each of the Cause (Independent Variable) and Effect (Dependent Variable) dice, and then place them on the Tabletop Placement in the spaces indicated.
  • Instruct students to read the question generated with each toss of the dice and then record the results of each toss on their Recording Sheets. Students should be writing out the complete questions.
  • Students can identify the questions that they think are most interesting by putting a check mark or star in the Best column on the recording sheet. If the class has participated in the TomatosphereTM Seed Investigation, students can use these selections as testable questions for conducting further plant-based inquiries with the TomatosphereTM seedlings.
  • Have students write out the full testable question generated with each toss in the space indicated on the recording sheet. Use this sheet to assess student comprehension of the task and ability to write testable questions.

    e.g. How do the hours of light affect the time to flowering?

    e.g. Will a different colour of light cause a change in the mass of leaves produced?

Tips for success


  • Students can share the testable questions they have created with other groups or the class.
  • Students can record and write the questions individually or collaboratively.
  • Customize the generic cube templates to include potential independent and dependent variables for other inquiries you would like your students to explore.
  • Have students identify potential independent variables and dependent variables for another inquiry topic and have them create their own set of Testable Questions Toss-up cubes.
  • Edit the various templates in the Tools and Template section to differentiate for grade level, interests and abilities of students.

Tools and Templates:

    Testable Questions Toss-up Dice Template for Plant Inquiry pdf doc

    Testable Questions Toss-up Tabletop Placemat pdf doc

    Testable Questions Toss-up Recording Sheet pdf doc

    Testable Questions Toss-up Dice Template pdf doc