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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

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Teaching the scientific method

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

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