Unveiling Pathways of Curiosity, Discovery, and Creativity Through Investigatory Research

Great Work Investigations at the upper primary level are an integral part of our students’ educational journey.

Each student engages in individual investigatory research, selecting a topic of their choice within the Montessori Great Stories and sharing their findings with peers and teachers using a format that suits their creativity (e.g., written, spoken, visual, tabulated, sculptural, musical, poster, PowerPoint, iMovie, or animation). Throughout their three years in the Upper Primary Classroom, students complete 12 Great Work Investigations, one for each term.

These investigations mirror the essence of great research, as students start by formulating meaningful questions and then embark on a journey of exploration and discovery.

Like any great research, students first pose questions and, from there, they develop their research, for example:

  • How do animals adapt to living in cold climates?
  • How does light behave when it goes through prisms?
  • How have the Beatles influenced music over the last six decades?
  • How has Archimedes contributed to Mathematics?
  • How is food influenced by culture? In this project, students might decide to cook food from various cultures.

While students enjoy considerable freedom in their work, we encourage them to consider the following criteria throughout their three-year journey in the Upper Primary Classroom:

  • Mathematics Investigation: One of the Great Work Investigations should involve mathematical concepts, such as measuring the bounce of balls, determining the area of large spaces, creating scale diagrams, or conducting probability investigations.
  • Social Science Investigation: Another investigation should focus on a social science topic, such as conducting a survey on languages spoken at home, exploring migration stories of families, or examining social issues like mobile phone usage and perceptions of smartwatches.
  • Design-Based or Inventions-Based Investigation: Students should undertake a design-based or inventions-based investigation, such as designing, constructing, and testing a solar oven, or creating and testing clothes and materials suitable for cold climates.
  • Collaborative Work: During the three-year cycle, one investigation can be carried out in pairs or groups, allowing students to develop teamwork and collaboration skills. For instance, they might engage in collaborative drama projects.
  • Extended Narrative: As a creative outlet, students can choose one Great Work Investigation per year to take the form of an extended narrative, such as a mini novel, where they explore storytelling techniques and develop their literary skills.

The Great Work Investigations align with the requirements of the Australian Curriculum and aim to prepare students for research, critical thinking, and independent inquiry, which are essential skills for International Baccalaureate and university studies. By engaging in these investigations, students embark on a lifelong quest for knowledge, fostering a love of learning and an appreciation for diverse perspectives.

Here are some examples of Great Work Investigations:

The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions. We shall walk together on the path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.”

– Dr Maria Montessori