One of the key themes that has not changed, however, is that I have my science methods students "do science" on a weekly basis. That is, we aren't just learning about science; we are actively investigating, observing, inferring, experimenting, and communicating what we discover. I want them to experience learning science this way in the hope that they will carry this approach to teaching science into their own classrooms down the road.
So, when we began the new semester in science methods yesterday, their first assignment is an investigation...
I handed out a little plastic sleeve to each student:
|What's in the package?|
|A fortune-telling fish?|
I ask students to place their fish in the palm of their hand, and to watch what happens. Almost immediately, their fortune fish does something like this:
|Whoa! What just happened?|
Students are fascinated...and someone almost always says--usually under their breath--"How does it do that?"
And that is the question for the first investigation: What makes the fortune fish do...that?
We brainstorm for a moment...
Could it be the heat of your hand?
Could it be the moisture in your skin?
Could it be static electricity attracting and repelling?
How could we find out?
And their first assignment is born: play with your fortune fish, write down your questions, scribble some notes about the things you try as you investigate, and start to come up with a tentative answer. We'll share our thinking and the evidence we've collected in class next time we meet.
We will do science.
* If you are interested in fortune fish for your own class, you can get 144 of them for about $7 and free shipping with Amazon Prime... :-)