Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Framework: Practice Makes Perfect

The readings, for this week, from A Framework for K-12 Science Education, gave an introduction to new concepts that should put into science classes. Chapter two describes the principles that this framework is based off of, and how concepts should be taught as a progression of learning throughout primary and secondary education. The beginning of Chapter 3 discusses the first dimension of scientific and engineering practices that should taught in schools.

A Framework included many themes that have been discussed in earlier readings. These include the importance of modeling in the classroom. Lehrer’s research and articles argued for this. Argumentation and explanation were predominant in the articles by Sampson and Reiser, where a student should learn how to analyze and then communicate what they found to others, through modeling and representations. Representations were mentioned in A Framework as well. The article says that, by the end of 12th grade, students should be able to critique representations and create their own. Our representation assignments and readings covered how representations have to be used carefully, depending on what is seen in the representation, and how it can be misleading.

Another common theme was that the goal of science education is not just to teach a student scientific facts: the results of scientific practices, but also how those pieces of knowledge were found. This theme has been constant in almost all of the readings assigned so far this semester. Lehrer describes, in his modeling articles, how a class should be representative of a scientific community. Sampson, Jackson, and Greeno also emphasize the importance of scientific practice as a way for a student to gain an understanding of science and scientific material. Students discovering facts on their own is also a good way to make the knowledge meaningful. This could increase the students’ motivation to learn, which is a difficult thing to do.

A new theme that A Framework presented, but has not been discussed in other readings or in class, is that engineering and scientific practices are both important practices to be taught, though as separate practices. It appears, according to the tables comparing scientific and engineering practices, that the two are not very different from each other. Is engineering practice entirely separate from scientific practice? Is the difference that important when it comes to designing lessons for the classroom? Personally, I’ve always seen engineering as another source and outcome of scientific inquiry. Facts and knowledge, that is found through scientific practice, is used to improve technologies or systems, but is also the reason new knowledge is researched. It seems to me that engineering and scientific practices are both under the same question of ‘how does this work?’ Should the two practices be taught as separate fields? 


  1. I found it interesting how the framework bridges science and engineering together as well. I noticed that the text mentioned both “for science” and “for engineering” In box 3-1 and to me at first it kind of seemed like they were making a clear distinction between the two, almost implying that science is not engineering and engineering is not science. On page 42 the text explains, “Throughout the discussion, we consider practices both of science and engineering. In many cases, the practices in the two fields are similar enough that they can be discussed together. In other cases, however, they are considered separately”. In many areas I see the similarities to the modeling process, they both develop and use models to carry out investigations, they analyze and interpret data, they argue using evidence, and they both communicate findings to others. I understand the crosscutting between the two and how they play off each other, however I guess I still see engineering as a separate thing. As the text points out, science asks questions and constructs explanations and theories that fit best with the observations and data, whereas engineering defines problems in the world and designs solutions to best address those problems. I guess for me I kind of see it as science addresses how to best make sense of and answer questions about these crazy scientific phenomena that elude us, and engineering is more what contraption can I build to solve this problem were having. Yes there interconnected, (you need to know about soil and water to engineer bridges, or construct a microscope or telescope to help make sense of things too small or far away to see) but I feel like I know a lot more about physical, biological, earth, environmental, and space science than I do how to design and create a solution to CO2 emissions and building contraptions to harness alternative energy. I understand how it could be helpful to include both in a science education, but I feel like I would struggle just as much as some students in the engineering department.

  2. I agree that the line between science and engineering is tenuous at best. The way they separate the fields between "questioning" and "problem-solving" assigns a linguistic difference that I do not think exists. In my opinion, engineering is a type of science, just like biology, chemistry, physics, etc, as it seeks to observe and ask questions of our environment. For example, an engineer would observe a fish swim and wonder if humans breathe underwater too. He would then have to study the fish's mechanism, the human body, the chemistry of gasses, and the properties of material in order to test his hypothesis that humans could indeed breathe underwater if they brought an air tank with them. If you apply Joey's logic, you could just as easily say physics is different from science because it works in the theoretical whereas biology is observable. You cannot use the knowledge or practices of one science to define science as a whole. If science is defined by questioning, modeling, and argument, then engineering should most definitely be included within the concept of science.

  3. I agree with you that you cannot use the knowledges or practices of one science to define science as a whole. I agree engineering could be classified under the concept of science and so could physics. I guess I was mostly focusing on the differences instead of similarities between "science" and "engineering". Obviously there are also differences between lets say Biology and Chemistry, but clearly we would consider both as scientific disciplines. However, by the text separating "for science" and "for engineering" I feel like there is something to be discussed.


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