Monday, January 17, 2011

What is Science?

Science isn't being bored in class while someone lectures.
Science is the learning we gain through the scientific method.

Observation Hey, look!
Question Why is it like this?
Hypothesis Well one time, at band camp, this happened, so maybe ...
Prediction it would happen the same way here.
Testing No.  Hmm.  Wonder why.  Let's try this.

And that is all in the way of learning you will get from me today.  But you wanna see something cool (Doyle, did you post about this?  I forget where I first saw it, but THANKS to who did!)?  Look at this.
Wanna read something cool? Read how they did it.

Can you imagine how much sky-watching and tinkering they'd have to do before they'd come up with that system? Quite obviously, for at least a few people, staring out into space (and actually paying attention) was the thing to do.  Sweet.

And then there is this:
And thanks to Classic Detritus, we get beautiful art, with an explanation of some of it's scientific limitations.
 In a nutshell, in "real life," the shell they have in the movie dons't match the math they are showing.  It is still a logarithmic spiral though.  But I can't confirm, I didn't do the measurements myself.

And of course, there is one of the reasons I wrote this whole post: I found some awesome shells on Galveston Beach on New Year's Day (To my hubs, these shells seemed much more fragile this year than he remembers.  Of course, his hands don't count as a scientific instrument.  We'd need something with more accuracy and precision.  But it got us thinking.  What would make them more fragile?  What happened between last year and this one?  The BP oil spill happened.  What was that dispersant again? But maybe these are just older, more worn shells than the ones you've crushed before?  No, he says.  Well, we know CO2 makes water more acidic.  And an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere would influence the dissolved CO2 in the ocean.  And acidity "eats away" at calcium carbonate.  And if they are made of calcium carbonate...but we don't know.  We weren't using the scientific method all the way through, you see?  No testing, no researching through peer review journal articles.  But observation, paying attention, and wondering and being curious will get you pretty far, but the tedious tinkering of the dedicated and hardworking may save us all.)

You see, science is everywhere.  All we have to do is pay attention.

All I got so far in my new room.  Don't judge.  We can go from here to the scientific method, no probs.
P.S. The way that my tutor groups are divided, I only get the same kids 9 times before my gig is up.  I got 9 80-minute sessions to inspire them to consider that Science is the way, the truth, and the life, and that they should never be discouraged from challenging themselves with it's study.  No pressure, right?  Send advice, now please, thanks.


  1. Dear Dirt,

    I stole the video from Tom Hoffman, I think. It's wonderful, no?

    As far as teaching science, well, while I get that we need to show how it works, I think that for most kids, focusing on just observing the natural world is more than enough--too few adults are capable of knowing what's real anymore.

    I had surprisingly good results with letting my students design their own experiments. One child wanted to see if water shrank shoes, another team wanted to see if they could alter a flame with static electricity, one team tested the taste preferences of one of our classroom slugs.

    I present the usual high school curriculum, of course, but I bet they remember their terrariums long after the Krebs cycle fades from their memories.

  2. Thanks, I tried to post a longer comment, but I don't think it worked. The main idea was that I liked the blog...

  3. Sweet!! Thanks Bryan!! I appreciate it. Thanks for visiting.