Hazen and Trefil (2009) describe the beginning of modern
science by describing creation and application of Newton’s laws. Newton’s use
of the scientific method and the generalizability and simplicity of his laws
made them unique in the study of the natural world to that point.

Leher (2009) looks at modeling as a way for students to both
gain and demonstrate knowledge. Creation of a good model requires students to
determine the most important factors and make decisions about what makes a good
model. Students can use representative models and microcosms to investigate.

Galileo (1638) defined uniform acceleration through careful
experiments and manufactured observations. He did this refuting common
knowledge and establishing a simple mathematical model for acceleration.

A few of the ideas the resonated most with me from the
readings were:

·
The importance of taking time to really address
misunderstandings (Galileo 1638)

·
The value of background knowledge in forming new
ideas for Newton (Hazen and Trefil 2009)

·
The value of multiple models for explaining new
ideas (Galileo 1238)

Last week in class, each group developed a slightly
different model for understanding and explaining acceleration. We recognized
that to know and to show others that acceleration was happening, we would need
models, not just explanations using words, even for this very intuitive
concept. Galileo used models in his
experimental design. He needed a way to slow the effects of gravity, so he
created a representative world for his study that would make accurate
measurement possible: he “diluted” gravity with incline planes. These same
models which allowed him to know that acceleration was uniform allowed him to
explain that knowledge to others. Later, when Newton united the heavenly and
terrestrial conceptions of gravity, he was able verify his laws using both
Galileo’s and Kepler’s models. If the greatest scientific understandings of
history came through accurate use and application of models, then we can
clearly see the benefit of using models to help our students gain new
understandings.

It's interesting that you say, the greatest scientific understandings of history came through accurate use and application of models, because as I always hear about our "greatest discoveries" being discovered on accident! I think Hazen even mentions that Kepler used another astronomer's data to prove that planet orbits were elliptical, not circular, like previously thought. Isn't Kepler disproving that, albeit inaccurate, scientific model then? It really makes me think about what other truths we believe that could be disproven through further investigations and observations. Also the fact that Newton put together the idea of "one gravity" by seeing an apple fall from a tree while the moon was in the sky, because he didn't necessarily come to that conclusion through the rigors of scientific modeling.

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