Why I love Science?Passionate about discoveryFascinated about how things workNot a science person – english and music abilityGets kids to think and question – I love kids to question things and think creativelyThis not aimed at students already enthused for Science and math, the one who will most likely go on to become an engineer or doctor – but at the student who will become a lawyer or brick layer or nurse...the mainstream of society.
SIR ISAAC NEWTONA virgin til the day he diedPrickly, irritable, scornfulDeliberately did not publish results if he knew a hated rival wanted them – often for up to 17 yearsSwung out of bed, sat on the edge and then froze for hoursBodkin incidentUsed taste as a scientific instrument, often with deadly materialsA dedicated alchemist - ½ of his papers were about itInvented a type of calculus - in one night – to solve a maths prize questionHENRY CAVENDISHExceedingly shy Ran away from an admirer who came to visitCommunicated with his house servants by noteMade several major discoveries – and then did not publish them for years, or not at allWent to weekly scientific meetings but newcomers were told to not go near him or talk into the airMade fundamental discoveries about electricity and subjected himself to ever higher electrical shocks, dutifully noting the level of agony, until his and would no longer hold his quill or he passed outJBS HALDANE and FATHER JOHNFather – very absent minded – sent by his wife upstairs to get changed for a dinner party and didn’t return. Found asleep in bed – said because he undressed he assumed he was getting ready for bedTo understand the effect of gases on the body, systematically poisoned himself with carbon monoxide, quitting only when he lost all muscular control and when his blood saturation levels were within a fraction of lethalityThe son – JBS – became obsessed with saving divers from the bends. Made the world’s first hyperbaric chamber and engaged in a series of experiments, all painful and nearly always dangerous. Volunteers were subjected to stuff like sitting in ice water while breathing poor air, rapid changes in air pressure.Went in (himself) many times – once simulated a really rapid ascent and had the fillings in his teeth explode. Another experiment left him without feeling in his buttocks and lower spine for 6 years. Nearly every experiment ended with vomiting, bleeding or a seizure. Collapsed lungs and burst ear drums were commonplace.The REALLY extraordinary thing about this was not that he was happy to subject himself to this but that he somehow convinced others around him to do the same – once got his wife to go in and she had a violent convulsion that lasted 13 minutes. When she finally came to, he helped her to her feet and then sent her home to cook dinner.
Ignorance is acceptable only if there is such a lack of opportunity that prevents solid education from happening – there is no excuse for wilful ignorance nor ignorance through poor teaching or denial of opportunity through apathy or the amount of effort required to dispel it!Saddest thing I see in society is not that most students don’t know the answer to fundamental questions about the world around them but that they either don’t seem aware there is a question to be answered, or they will be unable to understand the answer or worst of all – don’t care about the question at all.
Louise anecdote: students worried about the future and see the world in a mess and that the world will end – some say in 2012. They have a philosophical attitude that the problems that beset the world are beyond their ability to influence. Media portrays the bad news before positive.Lachlan – bias and stereotype in his assessment of Muslims in Britain: no critical evaluation – accepts on face value
Science around the home
SCIENCE IN THE HOMETurning kids onto Science and Developing Scientific LiteracyTuesday 8th June 2010
When I push down on the top rod, the one on the side popsout. What might be happening inside to make this happen?
ALICE•PEAC student•Top of the class for both mathsand English•Highly motivated•Accepted into a special Scienceprogramme for High School
RICKY•Class ratbag!•Near bottom of class in literacyand numeracy•Not engaged in learning•All standard academicmeasures – really weak
Smart doesn’t always = normal!Sir Isaac Newtonb.1642 d. 1727•Codified the laws of UniversalGravitation•Inventor of the infinitesimalcalculus•Inventor of the reflectingtelescope•Explored and identified keyproperties of lightHenry Cavendishb.1731 d. 1810•Recognised the elementalnature of Hydrogen•Calculated the density of theEarth – to within 10 %•Introduced the concept ofvoltage and other importantelectrical factsJ.B.S Haldane (andDad!)b.1892 d. 1964•Calculated the effects ofcompressed gases on thebody•Synthesised Darwin’stheories into a moderninterpretation
The Role of Science To provide a framework with which to make sense ofthe world around us To systematically collect and organise factsaccording to a set process To look for patterns and connections within thenatural world and propose interpretations to explainthem To interpret natural phenomena through therigorous examination and testing of empiricalevidence To constantly re-examine current thinking andmodify understandings as new information becomesavailable
Some Statistics... Only 53% of adults could say how long it took for the Earthto travel once around the Sun. Just 59% of adults knew that the earliest humans did not liveat the same time as the dinosaurs. Only 47% of adults could even approximately guess the % ofthe Earth’s surface covered by water. Only 21% of ALL adults surveyed scored all three questionscorrectly.A 2007 study by Michigan State University determined that just 28 percent of American adultscould be considered scientifically literate.In February 2009, the California Academy of Sciences released the findings of a surveywhich found that most Americans couldn’t pass a basic scientific literacy test. The findings:At a recent Harvard University orientation for new students, an informal pollfound that less than 10% of the students knew why it is hotter in Summerthan Winter.
How do we stack up? Australia scored above the OECD averageand we came 7th overall out of 58 countries(USA was 35th!)15 year old students from OECD and non OECD countries – ScientificLiteracy (2006)The bar for ‘minimum’ standards for scientific literacy isn’t very high!Another ‘Australian only’ study conducted by the University of NSWfound that only 20% of the BEST Year 12 students would beconsidered scientifically literate if measured by adult standards.
What is Scientific Literacy?Scientific literacy relates to the ability to think scientifically and touse scientific knowledge and processes to both understand theworld around us and to participate in decisions that affect it.Increasingly, science and technology are shaping our lives. Scientificliteracy is considered to be a key outcome of education for allstudents by the end of schooling – not just for futurescientists, given the growing centrality of science and technologyin modern societies.The skill of being able to think scientifically about evidence and theabsence of evidence for claims that are made in the media andelsewhere is vital to daily life.It does not mean having to be a professional scientist!
Why is Scientific LiteracyImportant? Knowledge = empowerment :The power and freedom to makeinformed personal decisions on matters that matter! Active citizenship – having the skills and knowledge toparticipate in local/national/global decision making Critical evaluation – having the tools and confidence to ‘weighup’ the truth (or otherwise) of often spurious or sensationalistmedia pronouncements Applications – skills that are transferrable Exploration and discovery is hardwired - questioning and findingout is a joy! Connection – part of being a well rounded, well educated person:see ‘the bigger picture’ Human rights – it is a fundamental right of every citizen to bescientifically literate
What can you do? Model, Model, Model A love of learning (in general). Delight in discovery. Attitude towards Science in society – and scientists Model persistence and resilience – and instil both inyour child Model cooperative skills and how to deal with conflictor disappointment Speak positively about your own school experiences ‘Think aloud’ – question things verbally and ponderpossible answers Model openness to new ideas, points of view andmodel your preparedness to change your view oropinion based on new evidence
What can you do? Engage and Involve Do some home investigations with your kids – they craveyour time and participation Teach them the value of asking questions – and askquestions yourself...constantly. (including those without‘black and white’ answers) Regular visits to library and have a range ofbooks, magazines, newspapers around the house. Speakabout them, model reading them, etc Seek your child’s opinion and teach them how to justifytheir opinion Acknowledge your ignorance of some things – buttogether, find out the answer Model healthy scepticism and not accepting things on ‘facevalue’
What can you do? Engage and Involve (cont.) Speak about well publicised Science news around thedinner table Don’t be afraid to bring up contentious issues – modela balanced point of view Find out their hobbies and interests – kids wantDESPERATELY to share their ‘inner world’ with you Model scepticism but not cynicism Plan some family outings that involve some type ofdiscovery, exploration and can generate discussion
What shouldn’t you do! Lecture Force children to engage – no better way to turn them off! Buy heaps of expensive ‘sciencey’ toys and leave them to it Make learning new things seem a grim, arduous task Discuss things using ‘all’ statements and stereotypes Be afraid of your own science knowledge – it is your modelling of‘enthusiasm for finding out’ that will help your child Make every family activity an educational experience – do a varietyof things; some purely for FUN! Give up if your child is initially reluctant to engage or rolls their eyesat you – be patient, be persistent and they will start to come around Place too much emphasis on answers – they are, ofcourse, important, but the QUESTIONS, and the journey to find outthe answer are the real gold nuggets!
‘The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and hedelights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and ifnature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living.’Jules Henri PoincareReferences Bill Bryson: A short history of nearly everythingBlackSwan Books 2003 Carl Sagan:Cosmos Random House 1980,2002 Carl Sagan: Shadows of forgotten ancestorsBallantine Books 1993 http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/index.php http://firstname.lastname@example.org/scifun/miniexp.htm http://www.easy-kids-science-experiments.com/ http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/scienceclips/index_flash.shtml http://childparenting.about.com/od/learningenrichment/a/sciencefair.htm http://wupcenter.mtu.edu/education/ed3510/2006/NSTA-Parent_Involvement_in_Science_Educ.pdf http://www.acer.edu.au/enews/2005/02/comparing-results-from-pisa-and-timss http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/discovery-videos.htm http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/discovery-videos.html http://www.parentsconnect.com/articles/learn_to_love_school.jhtml
Finally.....the last word...Go to YouTube.com and type in:Crazy Sprinkler Lady(it plays for 2.00 minutes)This is the kind of thing we need tocombat!