Despite curriculum imperatives, in South Africa and worldwide, for learners to have more autonomy in
investigations, they remain largely teacher controlled with learners having only limited opportunities in
planning. This design-based study explored how a cartoon can be employed in a Grade 9 Natural Sciences
class in prompting learners to plan investigations. This innovation followed a continuous cycle of design,
enactment, analysis and redesign, synonymous with design-based research. Data were collected through
classroom observations of the cartoon being used in practice by a Grade 9 teacher, and interviews with
her. The effectiveness of this innovation was established by assessing learner plans using an adapted
rubric. The findings indicate that a cartoon having an extended dialogue between characters on a science
concept, accompanied by a prompt sheet, is an effective support mechanism in planning investigations.
Using this support mechanism, learners were able to write a plan which included stating the problem,
formulating the hypothesis, identifying variables, apparatus and a step-by-step procedure for conducting
the investigation as well as describing how the collected data would be analysed to address the stated
hypothesis. The findings also reveal that such a support mechanism, apart from shifting learners towards
more autonomy, does invite learners to engage in the scientific discourse, wh ich often serves as a barrier
to science learning.