Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 21st Post

            The themes I noticed among these papers were that we need lifelong, life-wide, and life-deep learning occurring within a framework that involves people, places, and cultures.  We also need to give learners new information and models that can build on or challenge their intuitive ideas.  We also need crosscutting concepts in learning, not only teaching to nurture scientists but to also nurture the skills other professions like engineering or technology related fields might use.  Formal education is necessary in deeply understanding mechanics of some scientific aspects, however informal education is still needed if all students are to have meaningful science and engineering learning.
Many students are being turned off of science in schools, but in an informal setting, are often engaged and entertained by science.  This is why out of school learning is so important; people need to invest in their communities that provide these opportunities through museums, science centers, botanic gardens, zoos, and other sites.  A lot of informal science education is missed for children whose parents do not have the time, money, or inclination to spend on visiting or interacting with these scientific communities.  This makes me realize how lucky I was to have parents that were interested in providing these opportunities for me, as well as had an interest for themselves by having a lifelong learning experience.  One could not say for sure what the impact of these scientific interactions has had for me, but I know my dad’s interest in astronomy as a hobby as always piqued my interests in space science as well as wanting to learn about how our universe works.

            Since informal education can be so varied for our future students, teachers need to make sure that the formal education they are providing is just as fun but also meaningful.  One could easily design all sorts of “fun” science related activities, but making sure those activities can provide good engagement with learning concepts and/or mechanics of science can be a challenge.  This probably would not be as much of a probably for high school students, but making sure the “fun” aspects of science are not overtaking a lesson seems like it could be a challenge.  How much fun is too much?  Is there even a limit if the students really are learning meaningfully?  I feel like in order for a teacher to even assess if his/her students have learned concepts, one would have to tone down the fun so that some kind of serious discourse could occur among students.


  1. I agree that activities have to be carefully planned and not cross the line into being distracting instead of meaningful. In my psych class, we have been discussing motivation. Activities have to be challenging, but not too difficult, has to engage their thinking, which can be done by hands-on activities and non hands-on. Their curiosity, and interest, have to be captured as well. There is a definite balance that has to be met. Maybe this balance depends on what concept is being taught, or the dynamics of the classroom? Does "fun" mean a fun activity, or can it be something that is meaningful and interesting?

  2. When considering meaningfulness, this must be thought of individually and as the social setting of the school. Students will not always agree about the meaningfulness of a lesson. How do you apply the importance of a concept for future scientists and future non-scientists alike? Next, how do you highlight the concepts of highly enjoyable experiments in science class? Is there a possibility of too much fun in a classroom as long as students are grasping the desired material? Enjoyment of school should be embraced especially when knowledge is being acquired. Finally, is it impossible for instructors to assess in an enjoyable manner? Why must tests lack excitement? In theory, students would be much more intrinsically motivated to show competencies when they receive enjoyment and reward from the process.


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