Sunday, January 2, 2011

Favorite comments of '10: gasstationwithoutpumps, Knowledge Based Science and Set on relevant science projects


It isn't just teachers but science fair judges who have raised application on a pedestal. A very good pure math project will lose to a mediocre math project that pretends to be applicable to traffic patterns or to the environment. In the past three years, the best way to get awards at the state level in California was to claim your project was related to health or the environment. Quality was definitely second to application area. (Disclaimer: I was a judge at the California State Science Fair one year and I saw this bias among my fellow judges, but I did not do a rigorous statistical test to determine if what I was seeing was more than expected by chance.)
November 10, 2010 11:30 AM

Knowledge Based Science

It's not just teachers and science fair judges, though. This is the position advocated by the largest professional organization for science teachers, the NSTA. 

From today's NSTA email update (yes, I am a member):

The NSTA Board of Directors voted recently to adopt a newly revised position statement advocating for K–16 science instruction to be provided within the context of personal and societal issues. The statement recognizes the influence that science and technology have on our lives, and how these issues provide a rich and motivating context in which students can learn the principles and practices of science and technology. The draft statement gives recommendations on what students should know and be able to do and how science instruction should occur within the context of societal and personal issues.

It's in the water. I'm not sure what can be done about it, other than better organize those teachers with differing views, or maybe change the selection process in schools of education.

...The link to the actual position statement... includes the following gem:

The purpose of understanding science and technology is not solely for the sake of learning, but rather to enable and motivate citizens to contribute to and engage in society.

So...I guess that answers your question. Learning for the sake of learning? That's _so_ last century.



Sounds like excellent training for grant applications :)

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