Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 1 Memo

Blog Post Week 1
 (Lehrer, Galileo, Hazen and Trefil)

The Lehrer article aimed at discussing certain approaches to design a successful way to teach students about scientific disciplines.  The approach thought most rewarding by Lehrer to truly educate students was modeling.  The article focused on designing a strategy that allows students to learn more so by exploring scientific questions empirically and less by simply accepting what a scientist (or teacher) tells them as fact.  By using physical and representational models students are more likely to explore the subject in a way that allows them to make more connections that can help them not only understand the question at hand, but also explore the questions that arise as a result of experimentation.  By using the invention and revision of models as Lehrer puts it, students are able to actively search and find answers to the questions of the natural world.

The Hazen and Trefil chapter had a focus on the interconnectedness of some of the most important discoveries of all time, as well as how models helped and continue to help advance our knowledge of science.  The chapter also highlighted the importance of the scientific method and design.  By not taking what was thought to be at the time a fact, great thinkers were able to do their own exploration through different models and experiments.  This was key in unlocking new and seemingly hidden truths most people take for granted.

The Galileo piece also focused on the importance of exploring scientific questions empirically and not solely through reason alone.  The article explores the properties of naturally accelerated motion and various people discuss the topic.  Multiple times reason and logic seem concrete, however when modeled in the natural world the results are not as expected.  It once again shows how important it is to do experiments and come up with your own understanding of certain natural phenomena.

A couple themes across all the articles seem to be the idea of modeling, as well as the importance of gaining scientific knowledge empirically.  It seems that although reason alone can be very powerful, gaining insights through empirical evidence is extremely important in science.  By using experimentation and observation to model events in the natural world, it is easier to reshape ideas and theories based on what you know. It is one thing to just believe what you are told, but the more significant discoveries have come from scientists that create their own representations to help answer questions about the world.  I definitely think the readings connect back to the activity we did on the first day of class.  Instead of using reason alone to answer if the ball was accelerating, all the groups used different representations to prove it through experimentation and observation.


  1. Educators and certainly science educators will encounter material that cannot be easily modeled to their students. Agreeing that modeling can benefit science learning, in what ways could students benefit from lessons that do not involve modeling? Every classroom unfortunately, will not have access to limitless materials and resources. As said about Hazen and Trefil, do you plan on challenging your students to not take what you say for fact, but to prove it themselves? Finally, what importance can be gathered when models do not work as planned?

  2. Leher described a sharp divide between modeling and logic. Without deductive reasoning, models fall flat. Students need to use apply logic to create models and draw meaning from them. I think that answers the question that David presented in part. When materials and time are too scarce for students to create a model to learn a particular topic, they can interact with, learn from and critique a previously formed model or data which was collected by someone else. Students can learn from applying logic and reasoning to models. Both are an interconnected part of the practice of science.


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