March 2012

What is Science and Scientific Method and How Do we Represent them in Science Methods Courses?[/

As a science educator, I am always concerned about how to convey to my students (most of whom have very little training in science and very large fear of science), what science is all about and what scientific method is. This is something that I believe will drive how they teach science… and how their student will think of science… I want to make sure the students do not think that science is the only way to know the world, but I want them to see the way scientists attempt to figure out the world around them. It is also important the students see the difference between science and pseudoscience or cargo cult science, as referred to by Richard Feynman: This is a very important discussion that rarely happens in science methods or even in science courses. I am always amazed how “scientific method” is taught in science methods courses… The model I have seen used is “Predict – Observe – Explain” does not make any sense to me and I wonder who came up with it. I wonder how can one make predictions without having any experience first… Although I have no space here to get into a philosophical discussion, I think the way we teach science methods course often does more harm than helps… What David Deutsch is discussing in his TED talk is one response to this issue… I think it is very important to discuss with the students, especially future teachers the philosophical underpinning of a scientific method and science itself…

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