Teaching the scientific method

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Presentation for science teacher trainers in Cambodia on how to integrate the scientific method in their lessons

Presentation for science teacher trainers in Cambodia on how to integrate the scientific method in their lessons

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  • Teacher explains or continues: depends on voting results
  • Science can prove anything. FALSE. The process of science, when properly applied, actually attempts to disprove ideas (hypotheses) by testing or challenging the hypothesis with observations (data) gathered from carefully designed experiments. If the idea survives testing, then it is stronger, and more likely an accurate explanation. Science is a process which can only produce “possible” or “highly probable” explanations for natural phenomena; these are never certainties. With new information, tools, or approaches, earlier findings can be replaced by new findings.   Science can solve any problem or answer any question. FALSE. The realm of science is limited strictly to solving problems about the physical world, a world that we can observe with our senses. Science is not properly equipped to handle the supernatural realm, nor the realm of values and ethics, realms that cannot be observed with our senses. Scientific explanations must be potentially disprovable. Explanations based on supernatural forces, values or ethics can never be disproved and thus do not fall under the realm of science. Any study done carefully and based on observation is scientific . FALSE. Science must follow certain rules; otherwise, it's not science (just as soccer is not soccer if its rules are not followed). The rules of science are intended to make the process as objective as is humanly possible, and thereby produce a degree of understanding that is as close to reality as possible. Scientific explanations must be based on careful observations and the testing of hypotheses. Different scientists may get different solutions to the same problem. Science can be influenced by the race, gender, nationality, religion, politics or economic interests of the scientist. TRUE. Intentional or unintentional sources of bias introduced in a study can result in different solutions to the same problem. Scientists are people, and although they follow certain rules and try to be as objective as possible, both in their observations and their interpretations, their biases are still there. Unconscious racial bias, gender bias, social status, source of funding, or political leanings can and do influence one's perceptions and interpretations. Unfortunately, science is all too frequently misused. Because it works so well, there are those who apply the name of science to their efforts to "prove" their favorite cause, even if the rules of science were not followed. Such causes are properly labeled "pseudosciences". Also, some scientists have been known to do fraudulent work, in order to support their pet ideas. Such work is usually exposed sooner or later, due to the peer review system and the work of other scientists.
  • Objective: students learn and discuss about characteristics of the Moon They have preferably access to reference books, internet Divide students into teams of three to five members Instructions: Brainstorming : Write down as many ideas as possible regarding the potential use of the 15 items for your trek to the research station. At this time, do not discuss or evaluate the merit of these ideas. Evaluation and consensus building : Discuss the merits of the ideas presented during the brainstorming session, and develop a consensus within your group regarding the relative value of each of the items. Place a 1 by the item you value most and a 15 by the item you value least, recording the rationale for your ranking. Discussion and defense of position : Compare your ranking with those of other groups. If there are differences, discuss them, presenting reasoned arguments for your ranking. 15 items: Box of matches 2 100kg tanks of oxygen Stellar map 10 kg dehydrated food Traditional signal flares First aid kit 50 m of nylon rope Solar powered fm radio 10 l of water Portable heating unit Two 45 caliber pistols Case of dehydrated milk Life raft Magnetic compass Parachute silk
  • Classification & Categorizing (card sorts) Biology: Drying and laminating leaves. Why use this technique? Student think about classifications they encounter Students’ prior knowledge can be assessed Students learn how to justify ideas
  • Biology: classification of leaves, animals Earth science: rocks, planets Chemistry: substances, elements
  • Objectives of this activity Observe pictures Make classes based on scientific criteria Argument their choice Compare alternative classification
  • Include stack “not sure” Objectives Observe pictures Make classes based on scientific criteria Argument their choice Compare alternative classification
  • Make cards with pictures of matter, formula, description Ask students to classify Discuss criteria
  • Vol 1, p80 3 classes: matter/ no matter/ not sure Familiarity with the items Listening to discussions Properties of matter: mass, volume, size, shape
  • Vol 2, p115 Ask students to cross out any words they are unfamiliar with 3 groups: food/ not food/ unsure Students discuss criteria Make definition of food - Items can be added/ deleted, depending on the level of the students
  • Object: burning candle Each member in turn lists an observation, which is written on a large piece of paper Refresh the definition of inference and point at observations that are in fact inferences. Observation : record resulting from study of event or object Inference : conclusion drawn from evidence or reasoning based on observations
  • The story of Alexander Fleming can be used: he discovered penicillin by noticing a slight discrepancy in the growth pattern of bacteria. After much research he managed to isolate the substance that inhibits the growth of bacteria: penicillin.
  • Yes or No? A cube of sugar will not ignite from a lit match. Do you think the cube will ignite if you sprinkle ashes on it first?
  • Look for a topic in the curriculum that you can teach with a discrepant event Try-out the part of the lesson in which you use the discrepant event. Include an accompanying document that contains the following: material needed, subject(s) or content, time required, target grade level science key-words questions that you would use misconceptions that the students might have about this topic

Transcript

  • 1. Training on Student Centered Approaches for Science Education Teaching the Scientific Method RTTC Kandal, January 2010
  • 2. Content
    • What is the scientific method?
        • Traffic Lights Activity
    • Teaching the scientific method
        • Brainstorming (Thought showers)
        • Classification & Categorizing (card sorts)
        • Observing & making inferences
        • Designing experiments
        • Using experiments as discrepant events
  • 3. Starter activity: Traffic Light Cards
    • Each student has set of 3 cards
      • Agree = green
      • Disagree = red
      • Don’t know = orange
    • Use in lesson
      • Teacher presents statement
      • Students vote with cards
      • Students discuss in groups of 2
      • Students vote again
      • Teacher explains or continues
    Courtesy Menno Abbink
  • 4. Example traffic light cards What is the scientific method? Science can prove anything. True False No idea
  • 5. Example traffic light cards False Science attempts to disprove hypotheses by testing them with data from carefully designed experiments. If the idea survives testing, then it is a stronger explanation. Science is a process which can only produce “possible” or “highly probable” explanations for natural phenomena; these are never certainties. With new information or approaches, earlier findings can be replaced by new findings .
  • 6. Example traffic light cards What is the scientific method? Science can solve any problem or answer any question. True False No idea
  • 7. Example traffic light cards False The scope of scientific knowledge is limited to the physical world, a world that we can observe with our senses. Science is not suitable to handle the supernatural, values and ethics. Scientific explanations must be disprovable. Explanations based on supernatural forces, values or ethics can never be disproved.
  • 8. Example traffic light cards What is the scientific method? Scientific explanations must be based on careful observations and the testing of hypotheses. True False No idea
  • 9. Example traffic light cards Science must follow certain rules; otherwise, it's not science (just as soccer is not soccer if its rules are not followed). The rules of science are intended to make the process as objective as is humanly possible, and thereby produce a degree of understanding that is as close to reality as possible. True
  • 10. Example traffic light cards What is the scientific method? Different scientists may get different solutions to the same problem. True False No idea
  • 11. Example traffic light cards Science can be influenced by the race, gender, nationality, religion, politics or economic interests of the scientist. Different backgrounds may lead, intentionally or unintentionally, to different research hypotheses. Unfortunately, science may also be misused. The peer review system aims at controlling the quality of scientific research and falsifying incorrect hypotheses. True
  • 12. Variation
    • Instant student feedback
      • Red card: I didn’t understand this part of the lesson
      • Yellow card: I still have a few questions
      • Green card: I understand, go on with the next concept.
  • 13. What is the scientific method?
    • Sequence of steps
  • 14. Tips There is no single correct path to follow when doing a scientific investigation. Science should be an exciting and creative pursuit, not a fixed series of steps
  • 15. Exercise
    • Design a research framework for:
      • Laundry hanging out to dry
      • Effect of soil characteristics on water run-off
      • Affecting the dissolving rate of sugar in water
      • Factors affecting the sense of taste
  • 16. Brainstorming
    • group work
    • problem-solving technique
    • creative contribution
    • from all members
    • collect prior knowledge
    • to raise research questions
    • to generate possible solutions
  • 17. Brainstorming instructions
    • Do not evaluate ideas yet
    • Focus on quantity, not quality
    • Build on ideas of others
    • Stimulate to be creative, think “outside the box”
    • Write down keywords
  • 18. Brainstorming tips
    • Use a simple demonstration, some pictures or a short lecture.
    • Limit the time
    • Determine a minimum number of ideas to ensure quantity.
    • Afterwards allow time for prioritization or reflection
  • 19. Example brainstorming
    • Open ended and inquiry based approach on plasma (spheres) (physics)
  • 20. Example brainstorming
    • Introduce the topic “plasma” with short lecture & pictures
    • “ Generate as many questions as possible about what you want to know about plasma.”
  • 21. Example Earth Science
    • Lunar mission
    • Stranded on Moon some distance from research station.
    • Which items to take from the wreckage for the trek?
  • 22. Example Biology
    • Environmental degradation (grade 11, chapter 6, lesson 2)
      • Which factors cause environmental degradation in Cambodia?
      • How can environmental degradation in Cambodia be reduced?
  • 23. More brainstorming ideas
    • What defines an animal (or life)?
    • Design an experiment to measure the Archimedes effect.
    • Recall everything you know about oxygen.
  • 24. Variant: thought showers Courtesy Steven DePolo
    • One question per group
    • Collect as many ideas as possible
    • Call “Change”
    • Build on ideas previous groups
    • World Café variant
  • 25. Examples for though showers
    • Can you describe any examples of genetic engineering you have heard on?
    • List all the factors which we should consider in a policy on deforestation.
    Courtesy Steven DePolo
  • 26. Tips
    • A powerful question:
      • Is simple and clear
      • Is thought provoking
      • Generates energy
      • Focuses on inquiry
      • Surfaces assumptions
      • Opens new possibilities
      • Invites deeper reflection
    Courtesy Steven DePolo
  • 27. Classification & Categorizing (card sorts)
    • Why do we make classifications in science?
    • Which criteria do we use for classification?
    • Card sorts as a learning activity
  • 28.
    • Nebulae and galaxies (grade 7, chapter 2, lesson 1)
    Example Earth Science http://hubblesite.org/
  • 29. Example Earth Science
    • Planets of the Solar System (grade 7, chapter 3, lesson 4)
  • 30. Example Biology
    • Classification of vertebrates (grade 7, chapter 6)
  • 31. Example Chemistry
    • Classification of matter (grade 8, chapter 2, lesson 3)
  • 32. Example Chemistry
    • Is It Matter?
    • Classify the things that you consider to be matter. Describe the rule or reason you used to decide whether something is matter or not.
    Rocks Baby powder Milk Air Light Dust Lightning Cells Atoms Fire Smoke Salt Mars Stars Steam Rotten bananas Heat Sound waves Water Bacteria Oxygen Gravity Magnetic force Dissolved sugar Electricity
  • 33. Example Physics
    • Categorizing questions on plasma
  • 34. Example Biology
    • Card sorts with fixed categories
    • Is it food (for plants)? (grade 7)
    • Organisms, including plants, need food to survive. Which things do you think plants use as food?
    Sunlight Nitrogen Sugar Carbon dioxide Minerals Fertilizer Soil Water Leaves Oxygen Chlorophyll Vitamins Protein Starch Phosphorus
  • 35. Observations & Inferences
  • 36. Observation vs. inference
    • Observe a burning candle
      • No inferences!
      • Use all your senses
      • Qualitative & Quantitative
  • 37. Inferences
    • Inferences are an explanation for an observation you have made.
      • based on past experiences and prior knowledge.
      • can change with new observations.
  • 38. Inferences
    • Can you find some more examples?
    • Record all observations about a phenomenon, a demonstration or image.
    • Record individually all the observations or make a drawing.
    • Students compare their lists in groups of 2 (optional).
    • Collect and write observations on the board.
  • 39. Example Biology
    • Structure of the flower (grade 8, chapter 3, lesson 8)
  • 40. Example Earth Science
    • Planets (grade 7, chapter 3, lesson 4)
  • 41. Example Chemistry
    • Surface tension and hydrogen bonds in milk
  • 42. Example Physics
    • Free experimenting with the plasma sphere
      • Make as many observations as possible
      • Some observations will lead to new experiments
      • At the end students present their results in groups.
      • Only observations should be written down
  • 43. Designing Experiments
    • A systematic approach of a research question
    • To test our assumptions about possible theories
    • Dependent and independent variables
  • 44. Designing Experiments
    • Students freely imagine and invent possible experiments
  • 45. Example physics
    • Design an experiment to investigate these hypotheses:
      • The bigger the air resistance, the faster the laundry will dry.
      • Evaporation is a cooling process.
    Courtesy Varvara Lozenko
  • 46. Example Biology
    • Design an experiment to investigate these hypotheses:
      • Plants always grow opposite to the field of gravity.
      • Plants always grow to direction of the light
  • 47. Discrepant Events
    • Short experiment
    • Counterintuitive
    • Capture interest
    • Introduce new subject
    • Detect misconceptions
  • 48. Examples
    • Nails in equilibrium (physics)
    • Burning balloon (physics)
    • Growing plants on a sponge (biology)
    • Cloud in a bottle (earth science)
    • A Sugar fire (chemistry)
  • 49. Example Earth Science
    • Pictures can also be used as discrepant event
    • Which star is closest?
  • 50. Activity on discrepant events
    • Can you find more examples for your lessons?
      • Find a topic and suitable discrepant event
      • What student reactions do you expect
      • What activities will you do afterwards?
  • 51. Exercise
    • Select one or more activities from this module
    • Develop a lesson plan
    • Peer review on lesson plan
    • Lesson try-out & feedback session