Evaluating Scientific Claims, a teacher workshop


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Evaluating Scientific Claims, Cornelia Harris, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Presented at Teaching the Hudson Valley's 2012 summer institute.

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  • Nice pic!
  • Brainstorm with teachers on slide
  • Ask teachers how they want to split up, if at all depending on attendance.
  • The goal here is not for students to have a perfect understanding of how scientists evaluate arguments. Rather, this activity is intended as a first introduction to help students develop initial awareness of scientific criteria for evaluating arguments. For this reason, some of the scientists’ criteria are left intentionally a little vague.
  • Evaluating Scientific Claims, a teacher workshop

    1. 1. Evaluating Scientific ClaimsA Method for Exploring Controversial Environmental Questions
    2. 2. Consider Two Sets of Information Evidence 1 Evidence 2Data from the WorldConservation Union PolarBear Specialist Group(2010) about 19 separatepopulations of polarbears.
    3. 3. Consider this scientific question: Should hydrofracking be allowed in New York State? Claim: The amount of wastewater produced will be minimal. Yes! Evidence:The amount of wastewater produced in New York will bevery small. For example, the wastewater discharged fromall offshore (US) drilling operations is around 175 millionbarrels per year. In order to reach that amount inMarcellus drilling, all of the wastewater produced by22,000 wells (10 times the amount predicted by the DEC tobe drilled in any given year) would need to be discharged. NO! Evidence: Even though there is not much wastewater produced, NYS has much less water than the Gulf of Mexico so the dilution and dispersal of the chemicals will not be as easy.
    4. 4. Mini Unit Overview• Students are introduced to… – Scientific arguments (claims, evidence, reasoning) – Scientific questions – Socioscientific issues – Ways scientists evaluate arguments Using Science In Decision-Making
    5. 5. Mini Unit Overview• Contexts: Template format provides ability to adapt to any socioscientific issue (e.g., place-based issue)• Grades: Middle to High• Time: 3 to 4 class sessions – with longer or repeat options• Materials Needed: Teacher Guide, Student Handouts, Video Projection, Articles for Students – Materials available online at: http://edr1.educ.msu.edu/environmentallit/publicsite/h tml/ci_tm.html Using Science In Decision-Making
    6. 6. Learning Objectives• Understand that we use scientific arguments to answer scientific questions• Be able to distinguish between questions that can/cannot be addressed by science• Understand that a scientific argument includes… – A claim – Evidence – Reasoning Using Science In Decision-Making
    7. 7. Learning Objectives (cont.)• Understand that in science we use specific criteria (e.g., replication, peer review, etc.) to evaluate scientific arguments• Be able to evaluate credibility of sources through relying on at least 1 scientific criterion• Understand science is just 1 lens for considering socioscientific issues Using Science In Decision-Making
    8. 8. Mini Unit Overview Activity1 Intro Scientific Argumentation (video context)2 Students develop criteria to evaluate arguments (article context)3 Intro/consider evaluation criteria of scientific communities4 Why should we care about scientific arguments?Optional Application Activities Using Science In Decision-Making
    9. 9. Activity One• Students introduced to brief definitions of… – Scientific (and non-scientific) questions – Scientific arguments (CER) – Socioscientific issue• Students watch short video and answer questions to consider terms in context Using Science In Decision-Making
    10. 10. What is a Scientific Argument and how is it different from arguments people have in everyday life? A scientific argument is used to answer a scientific question, and includes a claim, evidence, and reasoning. Characteristics of Characteristics of Scientific Arguments Everyday Arguments • Your opinion is important • Evidence to back up a claim • Feelings/emotions are • Argument can be tested important • Logical • Personal bias • Based on facts • Attacking a person and not • Supported by the evidence data, observations, evidenc • Popular opinion influences e argument
    11. 11. Before we jump into the video…let’s talk about your experience teaching about claims, evidence, and reasoning.
    12. 12. Example: Day and NightClaim Evidence ReasoningDay and night are caused A photo taken of the Pole Either all the stars areby a spinning Earth. Star with a long exposure rotating around the Pole shows all the stars going Star (and Earth is not round the pole star. spinning) or the ground on which the camera sits is Movement of Foucault’s turning. Pendulum is another piece of evidence.
    13. 13. Current is ConservedClaim Evidence ReasoningCurrent is conserved in a When you measure the If current was “used up” insimple circuit. current in a simple circuit the circuit, then the before and after a bulb with ammeter would read a an ammeter, both readings lower current in the wire are identical. after the bulb compared with before the bulb.
    14. 14. Plants  CO2 in O2 OutClaim Evidence ReasoningPlants take in carbon Oxygen: If you collect gas in Pure oxygen is moredioxide and give out a sealed jar of elodea (a flammable than air, sooxygen during plant) illuminated by light, there is a higherphotosynthesis. the gas will relight a glowing concentration of oxygen in wood splint. the sealed jar with the plant that has been More recently oxygen and illuminated. carbon dioxide probes have become available for conducting experiments with plants in the classroom
    15. 15. Now You Try --- Pangaea• Claim: About 250 million years ago, land on Earth consisted of one supercontinent.• Use information in the graphic on the next slide to describe some evidence and reasoning for the claim.
    16. 16. Describe Evidence & ReasoningColored dots show where fossils of land mammals and plants that lived 250million years ago have been found.
    17. 17. Hygiene HypothesisNOW TO THE VIDEO!http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/10/4/l_104_07.html
    18. 18. What scientific argument did Dr. von Mutius (and the narrator) make?What was her claim?What was her evidence?What was her reasoning?
    19. 19. • What socioscientific issue or issues is this scientific argument relevant to?• If you wanted to decide what ought to be done about this socioscientific issue, what other scientific questions in addition to the one in the video would you want to consider?• What non-scientific questions would you want to consider?
    20. 20. Activity Two• Students read articles (jigsaw possible) providing multiple arguments re a socioscientific issue• Students identify CER for each source• Students develop and apply own criteria for evaluating strength of arguments Using Science In Decision-Making
    21. 21. Socioscientific Issues for Today• How can we increase carbon storage in our forests?• Are polar bears an endangered species? Using Science In Decision-Making
    22. 22. What’s theArgument Here?
    23. 23. What Makes for a Strong or Weak Scientific Argument?How can you tell whether a scientific argument is strong or weak? Discuss with your group and list criteria (factors) below that you can think of that you would use to judge the strength or weakness of a scientific argument.Criteria (Factors) for Evaluating How Strong or Weak a Scientific Argument Is:
    24. 24. Evaluating Arguments in ArticlesCriterion Strength (S), Explain why the scientific argument is strong or Neutral (N), or(Factor) Weakness (W) weak for each criterion you list.
    25. 25. What’s Your Opinion?• What is your opinion about what should be done about this issue and why?• Is there anything that you could do to impact this issue? What are some things you could do and how might they impact the issue?
    26. 26. Activity Three• Students introduced to criteria scientists use• Focus is on intro/awareness, not depth• Students compare own and scientific criteria• Students revisit evaluations of sources using scientific criteria Using Science In Decision-Making
    27. 27. Activity ThreeSome Criteria Scientists Use• Scientific evidence• Sample size• Appropriate measures• Rigorous data collection• Replication• Underlying scientific concept• Consensus• Peer review• BiasUsing Science In Decision-Making
    28. 28. Activity Four• What are some socioscientific issues that you know about and/or that are important to you?• For one issue you’ve identified, what are some scientific questions that investigating could help people understand the issue better? Using Science In Decision-Making
    29. 29. Activity Four• Can answers to scientific questions provide us with all the information we need to make a good decision about what to do about a socioscientific issue? Why or why not?• If not, what other information would be needed? Using Science In Decision-Making
    30. 30. Activity Four• Is there generally a right and wrong answer to what should be done about a socioscientific issue? Why or why not?• If two people had the same exact information available to them about a socioscientific issue, could they make different decisions with both being considered informed decisions? Why or why not? Using Science In Decision-Making
    31. 31. Activity Four• Can all scientific questions be answered with 100% certainty? If not, can investigating these questions still help us to understand issues better, or is science only useful if it provides definite answers?• Has this set of activities changed the way you’ll consider scientific arguments in the future? If yes, how will what you do be different from what you’ve done before? Using Science In Decision-Making
    32. 32. Implementing this Unit• Materials are available on the MSU Environmental Literacy website including: – Teacher Guide – Student Handouts – Topic Packages with articles and teacher notes for each topic – Teacher Feedback Form• If you’re interested in the research portion of this project, please contact me