Questions for ‘To really learn, fail — then fail again!’

It took thousands of tries before Thomas Edison got the new storage battery to perform as he had hoped — and power this early electric car.

National Park Service

To accompany feature: ‘To really learn, fail — then fail again!’


Before reading

1.    Describe a time that you attempted to do something but failed? What did the experience teach you?

2.    Some people say you haven’t really learned to do something until you have taught it to someone else. Why do you think that might be true?

During reading

1.    What did Thomas Edison learn through months of experiments?

2.    Define Newton’s third law.

3.    How does a rocket-racer demonstrate Newton’s third law?

4.    Explain what “guide on the side” is and how it works.

5.    What is sense-making?

6.    Define “nanoparticles.”

7.    What fear does Margaret Heffernan believe holds back our creativity?

After reading

1.    Even if you meet with failure, why is it important to persevere?

2.    Provide at least two examples from the article of how trial and error eventually led to success.


1.    Emily Hogan used balloon racers. Brainstorm with a partner to come up with several additional ways of exploring Newton’s third law in the classroom. Describe what sort of “guide on the side” role you’d like your teacher to take.