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This is a curious article. It suggests science isn't easy, which is true.

However, it often tips over into saying science is a slog, which isn't true either. My Physics degree was rather interesting. Anyone who finds science a tedious chore is probably not the sort of person who should be sciencing.

I'm sure it's a word. It should be a word.
No classroom reform can or should change a simple fact about science. It is hard. It's really, really hard. That is not something we should attempt to paper over. In fact it's something we should c...
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Graham W's profile photoSteve Dempsey's profile photoIan Borchardt's profile photoAndrew Loch's profile photo
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Anything worth doing is hard. You could say exactly the same about any of the arts.
 
Science is hard. I spend a fair amount of time communicating this. The only part of doing science that is a slog is sitting in a traditional classroom setting. Classrooms are very far removed from what you do. It's a huge disconnect.
 
Have you read Lewis Wolpert's 'Unnatural Nature of Science'? Wolpert contrasts the logical mode of thinking required in science with ordinary 'common sense', which turns out not to be very sensible, but is at least easy and mostly works in most situations.
 
My two year old sciences all the time. Recently I found her sciencing with some left over eggs, a cup of water, and pennies. 'Sciencing' is totally a word.
Pete F.
 
Graham, dude. You are smart. Physics!
Pete F.
 
Ara, it happens in the language arts classroom as well, this death.
 
+Pete Figtree Having sat in on a number of different classrooms I would agree. It's a system wide problem. I violently correct this in our classroom but there are only a few of us on campus who strive for this.
Pete F.
 
Ara, how do you correct it?
 
+Pete Figtree We do this by having the students do science. FYI Not being snarky!!! This shocks a lot of students. What shocks me is the lack of anything scieney in most science classrooms and labs.

We use student drive research questions to get a topics in Process of Science, Learning of Science, Physics, Geology, and Astronomy. Basically I never lecture on anything unless the whole class asks me to. My job is being a mentor/fellow scientist. Given space and the proper classroom environment everyone becomes a scientist and finds out that it's damn hard.

Hopefully answered your questions and Graham I hope I am not to off topic here. If so I will take this elsewhere ;)
Pete F.
 
+Ara Kooser I love it. I want to work toward that in my classroom. Thanks.
 
+Pete Figtree I'd be glad to talk more about this somewhere else so we don't clutter Graham's thread ;)
Pete F.
 
Oops. Sorry, Graham. 
 
Not at all, I'm enjoying it.
 
Isn't it the maths that's hard rather than the science? I've got (or at least had) a pretty intuitive understanding of the Navier-Stokes equations based as they are around conservation of mass and momentum (the derivation used to seem pretty trivial). These concepts are easy to understand but the application (and the partial differential equations) much harder.
 
Actually I thoroughly disagree with this. Science isn't hard. We are all naturally accomplished at science. For instance we have an innate understanding of the physics involved in catching a ball. The difficulty is in learning how to communicate this knowledge, and how to apply this knowledge when we don't have a handy ball to illustrate what is happening. It is the teaching of science that is difficult and so often mishandled (and that's because very very few people are any good at it).

One of the biggest problems in teaching first year undergraduate physics* is that much of the maths tools you need don't get given to you until a year later (at least in South Australia). And the gap between secondary (high) school and tertiary (university) courses in this respect is getting pretty insurmountable, even with special bridging courses.

The lesson that science is hard is propagated to children early on., mainly from people that found it hard themselves, and whose courses have little or no technical or scientific component. [It's why I enthusiastically support getting scientists to volunteer to go out to schools and talk. They are much more confident about answering the question "why," especially when they don't know the answer themselves. <grin> ]

[* Also it's quite amusing when you go from a third year stats mech class to a first year general physics course and casually set all the constants to "1" to get rid of them. Especially since the students are as yet too inexperienced to ask "what are you doing?" _<grin>_]
 
+Ara Kooser : Agree totally. The only way to truly understand science is to get your hands dirty and try and work out what is happening yourself. It's not the results that are valuable (in teaching science), it's the process. Especially the "I discovered this" moments.

It's why budgetary and safety concerns closing down school laboratories is such a big problem. You can read as much as you like but until you gain the mindset of testing what you are told... <sigh>
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