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Brain Behavior Institute 2009 - Session 1



Being a Scientist/Explorer/Creator (Theory)
Starting Wherever We Are, To Get it Less Wrong, Together

Getting to know each others' stories

Evolving Neurobiologist and ... Applied neurobiologist and ...

Paul Grobstein - I'm a neurobiologist who has done research on nervous system organization and development in crayfish, leeches, rabbits, and frogs. This research was related to and has extended to exploring more directly several broader questions about brain organization and development in humans, including the nature of representations of space, the distinction between conscious and unconscious processing, and the nature of individual choice and free will. I'm also a parent, biologist and educator, with an array of still more general interests in the underpinnings of human behavior, the nature of biological, cultural, and intellectual change, complex systems and general information processing principles, and the character of human understanding and the relationships among its different forms. Associated with this is a strong commitment to improving the educational environment at all levels and for all people. Common to all these aspects of myself is a strong belief in the capabilities of the human brain to explore and create, both individually and collectively, in ways that achieve improved understandings of the human condition and open new avenues for its further development. And a belief that modern information technology, including the web, is a distinctive and valuable tool for the extension of human understanding. Having grown up with science, I have found it to be a central component of agency, a valuable source of both power and humility.

In what ways are you similar to/different from me/others here? Write a few thoughts down to include in your introduction to yourself in your blog tomorrow.  Write the first three things that come into your mind when someone says "science".  Save to include in your forum entry later this morning.  

What we are .... a diverse interacting community coming together to make better sense, for ourselves and other people, of the brain, of science, and of education.

Thinking about science (and science education)

Traditional Linear Loopy Story Telling
Science as body of facts established by specialized fact-generating people and process


Science as successive approximations to Truth


Science as authority about "natural world"

Science as process of getting it less wrong, potentially usable by and contributed to by everyone

Science as ongoing story telling and story revision: repeated making of observations, interpreting and summarizing observations, making new observations, making new summaries ... individually and collectively

Science as skepticism, a style of inquiry that can be used for anything, one which everybody is equipped to to/can get better at/be further empowered by, and contribute to - a way of making sense of what is but even more of exploring what might yet be


The crack
  • Multiple stories for a given set of observations
    • 3,5,7, .... ?
    • 1+1=2 or 1+1=10?
  • Observations in turn depend on stories
  • Science is as much about creation as about discovery
If science is as much about creation as discovery then the "crack"is a feature, not a bug ... and differences among people are an asset to the process rather than a problem or an indication it isn't working



Trying It Out ...


Which of the following two stories do you prefer?

  1. The earth is flat
  2. The earth is round

Because of ...

  • personal observations?
  • observations made by others (personally verified or not)?
  • social stories (heard from others)?
  • usefulness?

Relevant observations:

Is one or the other story true? Have there been others? Will there be? Which of the following two stories do you prefer?

  1. The sun goes around the earth
  2. The earth goes around the sun

Because of ...

  • personal observations?
  • observations made by others (personally verified or not)?
  • social stories (heard from others)?
  • other?

Relevant observations:

Is one or the other story true? Have there been others? Will there be others?

Scientific stories are frequently efforts to summarize the widest possible range of observations, always motivate new observations and hence new stories, should never be understood as "authoritative" or "believed in", do not compete with or invalidate other stories. Key issues about scientific stories
  • What observations do they summarize?
  • What new observations do they motivate?

Which of the following stories do you prefer?

  1. Existing life forms (including humans) are as they are because of a previous and ongoing process of evolution consisting of random change and natural selection (differential reproductive success).
  2. Existing life forms (including humans) are as they are because of repeated creative acts of a supernatural being with a plan and intent?
  3. Existing life forms (including humans) are as they are because of an initial creative act with a supernatural being with a plan and intent?
  4. Other?

Because of ...

  • personal observations?
  • observations made by others (personally verified or not)?
  • social stories (heard from others)?
  • other?
  • is one or another story "true"?

Relevant observations:



Loopy story telling science is a tool to help one become better at thinking for oneself

at using observations to make one's own stories that motivate new observations that motivate new stories that one shares with others
Science education should help people become better at thinking for themselves at ongoing, shared, exploration and creation That's the theory, this afternoon the practice
Science = open-ended transactional cyclic observation/interpretation/creation; being wrong and conflict an important part of it; give up "definiteness" for usefulness and openness (pass it on).

Where do we get the ability to inquire? to make observatons? tell/share/compare stories? revise hypotheses/stories? Tomorrow the brain ...

What do think of the science as story telling and story revising? of "getting it less wrong"? Good points? Bad points? Put your thoughts (including your starting thoughts about science) in the forum below to help others think about it too.


Lucienne Davis's picture

The Brain

The brain is every changing, so here is my story.

At the start of the Institute, my memory banks took me back to my college days taking psychology classes learning about the conscience and unconscious brain and its effect on behavior.  I feel as though my brain has been on virtual field trip.  I feel as though I have been on trip on the “Way Back Machine” with Mr. Peabody from the Rocky and Boo Winkle show.

Continuously, throughout my time at the Institute I took many trips in time.  During my journeys time, I realized how and why it takes time to process, to learn something, to analyze, to synthesize numerous inputs, that creates brain function that translates into behavior.

My experience at the Brain and Behavior Institute has been eye opening, empowering, and renewing.  Initially, I thought, the concept of “Emergent Thinking” was a foreign concept for me.  As the Institute progressed, I realized that the frame work of emergent thinking has been transforming the way I think, the way I behave, and continuing to infuse into in every facet of my life.  I am a work in progress that is ever evolving.




RecycleJack Marine's picture

Emergence is inquiry

Hands On science is a form of inquiry- emergence is the s.ame. Students will greatly benefit from "the  distinctive role to create a rich environment in which participants are engaged in learning" and therefore there is real learning happening

Paul Grobstein's picture

science, subjectivity, solipsism, and despotism

Very interesting conversation this morning about the "crack" and resulting inevitabile "subjectivity" of science.  Does that mean we can/should stop talking to one another, trying for common understanding?  What about the "anything goes" problem and the "evil man" problem?  Does subjectivity leave us with no tools to contend against either solipsism or despotism?

Nope.  There are obvious ways to avoid the "slippery slope," other than, and perhaps even better than to "pretend its not so," ie to assert objectivity even knowing it can't exist.  First is that there is a big difference between saying there is some degree of subjectivity in science and saying science is subjective.  Science attempts to minimize subjectivity in a variety of ways, most notably by making clear what the observations are and how one draws one's conclusions from them so others can challenge both. For perfectly good reasons, science aspires to objectivity even if it can't reach it (see The "objectivity"/"subjectivity spectrum: having one's cake and eating it too).  This can be an effective first line of defense against both solipsism and despotism.

The stronger defence though is, I think, that some measure of subjectivity makes it MORE important to share ideas with other people rather than less so.  Knowing there is some measure of subjectivity in whatever understanding I have makes the alternate perspectives others might have of still greater importance to me.  Conversely, knowing there is some measure of subjectivity in whatever understanding others have makes me less rather than more likely to hear them uncritically, and  makes it more likely that I can contribute to their further understanding.  Perhaps if we could persuade everyone of the inevitability of subjectivity, we could develop social/political systems that more effectively safeguard against both solipsism and despotism?


Jill Bean's picture

I appreciate and

I appreciate and whole-heartedly agree with your comments Paul.  I was trying to make a similar point below, but was far less clear.  Acknowledging that subjectivity exists does not mean resigning to it or letting it run rampant.  Perhaps by trying to recognize our own background and how it affects us, we can do an even better job of minimizing our subjectivity.  Furthermore we can be sure to check ourselves by sharing our stories with others and studying the stories of others. 

Deborah Hazen's picture

Why do we want to minimize subjectivity?

Can subjectivity spring from the brain's intuitive leaps? Do we want to broadly minimize subjectivity or guard against people who would not critically evaluate their own and the stories of others? Guard against the average person who would give up their story to simply follow someone else's? I don't know...just thinking that the personal experiences, background, etc... provide the spark that crafts the story based on our observations. I keep thinking about many of his ideas were crafted post-research as he muddled through his artifacts and diaries and mused about the differences among his own children, including those who died in infancy.

I'm not thinking of subjectivity as "unsubstantiated personal belief." Rather, I'm thinking of it as "the specific discerning interpretations of any aspect of experiences. They are unique to the person experiencing them, the qualia that are only available to that person's consciousness."  Quotes lifted from wikipedia---

Deborah Hazen's picture

Listening critically and contributing to further understanding

Paul, I think, has articulated a very important point for educators. Forget an emphasis on will have no purpose for students or the contributions that they will make to society post formal education IF we don't first and foremost teach/model/practice listening critically and the use of productive dialogue skills.

Verolga Nix-Allen's picture

3 questions @ the brain I would like answered for 7/07 AM

where is the artistic part of the brain which is used for music, dance, creation, etc?


what is meant by brain matter?  What is the brain made of?


Can the brain be taught to do certain functions?



Brie Stark's picture

When I think "science," I

When I think "science," I produce: evolution, education, research.


As we were discussing the process of science today, I think an important stressing point revolved around the concept that "truth" is a word only used in distrinct contexts.  "Truth" shouldn't be a concept conceived with the notion that it applies to all encompassing permanent fashions.  "Truth," as we came to understand it today, has many focal points that apply to it (personality, creativity, individuality, culture) that weave a story around certain facts and build what we consider a "truth," staying in context.  Wil Franklin brought up an interesting assertion that I think has a lot of backing: where will discussions arise from if there is no "truth," or another way of putting it, no consistent "fact" with which to draw upon?  He stated that it all seems very subjective, with little consistency to base a discussion upon.  I believe that this has founding, but I would offer my thoughts: perhaps we do need to emphasize the fact that there are "truths," but only in certain contexts.  Therefore, discussions could, in fact, reolve around the "truths" that we have understood, but only in the boundary of that context.  In so doing, we could not only explore the "truth" within certain boundaries, but we could also compare that "truth" or a "truth" we have found in another context -- which brings us to comparing two contexts, and therefore we can use those two contexts and subsequently two "truths" to make new observations which may lead us to similarities or dissimilarities and therefore the loopy science method is expanded.

I think that, as a student, we find it difficult to be "graded" if we are thinking too abstractly, rather than concretely.  As Antoinette brought up today, it seems that testing encourages this mentality of individual progress and distinct answers.  However, perhaps it is the process that should be emphasized, rather than the "right answer."  How do we reform our testing to accomplish this?  I think this is a good discussion point for later usage.

Jill Bean's picture

I think that viewing "facts"

I think that viewing "facts" and "truths" as simply the best story we have right now makes the most sense.  In the future new observations (perhaps through development of more sophisticated tools) could be made to change our current "facts" and "truths".  There are many things out there that large numbers of people accept as the best story we've got, since all the observations gathered so far support that story.  I don't think that acknowledging that the story may change in the future denies the story is the best one for this time and context.  This is important for all teachers who use open-ended inquiry.  Inquiry does not mean that all students can arrive at their own conclusions and each conclusion is equally right.

Teaching of science can result in students understanding that the "right answer" is the current best story.  I think science education should emphasize the process first.  The content is secondary, but both are important.  Teachers can engage students in a curriculum that will help them evolve their own stories, confront other stories and their, and revise their own stories so they become "less wrong". 

Brie Stark's picture

I think you bring up a great

I think you bring up a great point: that if educators stress that the "right answer" is in fact just a current story which seems to have the most relevance to the situation, then education will head in a direction based moreso on the development and progress of finding answers, rather than on the right answer itself.  I don't think that the "right answer" will lose credibility; if anything, I hope that it encourages people to keep pursuing observations and continuing to explore possibilities.  

I think you also bring up a valid point about inquiry.  As Paul described today, there can be wrong answers -- that is, an observation can be made that disproves a previous summary of events.  When that observation is made, we must acknowledge that our previous summary was inaccurate and make a new one.  I think that open-ended inquiry should be taught with emphasis on development, just as I stated in my above paragraph.  You bring up that inquiry doesn't mean that all students can arrive at their own conclusions and be right -- which I believe was a questionable topic today.  There is a certain subjectiveness that must be allotted when considering open-ended inquiry: the fact that one can be wrong.  Wil said that he felt the "crack" was a never-ending loop of subjectiveness; however, I think that if other teachers consider your point that science as inquiry is not entirely subjective and correct, this crack seems much more approachable and workable.

Deborah Hazen's picture

response to student being graded

As a aside...I am finding through conversations with college students that much of the grading on college campuses is not merely based on "truth" or concrete facts but also heavily reliant on timeliness. With entire letter grades being deducted for every day a paper is late. So, how much of grading performance is being based on the timeliness of your submissions versus the quality of your thinking? And why?

Brie Stark's picture

Those are great questions. 

Those are great questions.  If I had to guestimate, I would say that at Bryn Mawr, I've experienced around 1/3 of classes that assign projects that are not entirely based on "truth" or concrete facts.  I attribute this larger percentage to the fact that a lot of Bryn Mawr professors tend to think outside the accepted norm of education, and that Bryn Mawr has a strong liberal arts founding.  The classes that I found with the most tendency to not deviate away from "truth" were mostly introductory courses, specifically those in the sciences (example: my intro chem course).  As for timelines, I've never experienced this sort of setback.  At Bryn Mawr, asking for an extension is not looked down upon, and many students take advantage of it; on a personal level, I am very deadline oriented and haven't had to use this option yet.  However, none of the teachers that I've had have ever posed such harsh punishments, like dropping an entire letter grade, on a paper.  This year alone, I would say that I wrote upwards of 30 papers (I tend to take paper-oriented classes, like french literature, psychology, and this year, classes like Paul's neurobiology and behavior and another, peace and conflict studies).  None of these papers had strict timelines.

As for the quality of thinking, I think you raise a very good inquiry: what's stressed, quantity or quality?  Coming into college, I had always experienced quantity over quality.  In high school, the assignment was: write 3 pages on so-and-so.  When I came to college, I was happily surprised to find assigments like, "take this work of french literature, find a subject you enjoy, research that subject and write an interesting paper, preferably no longer than four pages."  I was taken aback at first -- where were my boundaries?!  But over time, I realized that I wrote ten times better when I was asked for quality over quantity; I took the time to reread my papers, to discard pointless sentences and to stress my ideas in a thought-out way (something I rarely did in high school, where I could hammer out a 4 page paper in less than an hour).  So, quality is definitely the priority -- the grading scales are also based on how much you touched upon the subject, etc, so that the quality comes out in the grade, as well.

Geneva Tolliferreo's picture


In conclusion of the AM session, the inconsistent observation is the real important issue, because it causes us to change our thinking.

Computers and the web are Informative, Designed, and Global.

Sometimes, out of randoness emerges order.

In sum...Simple things, acting in simple ways, emerge into something sophisticated.


Verolga Nix-Allen's picture

Emergence Day 1, PM


something that by itself is not what it becomes:

music notes turn into musical scores, songs,anthems for singing

single instruments turn into a band, full orchestra

mixture of ice and snow become snowflakes and each are different

Verolga Nix-Allen's picture

The Science Of Music day 1 AM

Science is

1.  Study of pre-existing things

2.  organization/progression

3.  atmosphere



Geneva Tolliferreo's picture

Science 'K-W-L'

Science...what I 'know' it is (at least in part), is Research, Inquiry, and Investigation.

What I 'want' to know (at least in part) is how to create and design a webpage.

What I will 'learn' (at least in part) is how to do just that.


Thanks for the opportunity to share and receive :0)



Angela Bryant's picture


It is very interesting how Science as a subject play a role in observations in the classroom. But you need a lot of resources and a working science lab to do obseravations. It is a shame that the schools I worked in  does not a have the science labs or the resources to teach the students the right way to learn new obseravtions and a summary. These students are learning from using text books only. So, how are the students going to learn new obseravions from thier text books, if they do not have the hands on labs to do experiences ?

Lucienne Davis's picture

Normal 0 false false false EN

Experiments, Expanding, and Fascinating are the first three words I used to describe science. 

Story Telling & Story Revising

IEP- documents and IEP meeting are good examples of storytelling and story revising. During the meeting teachers, therapists, and psychologists report on the progress of a student. Based on the observations reported, the IEP is written to reflect the observations to meet the individual needs of that student.

Getting It Less wrong:  Students are trained to get things right. However, we learn best from our mistakes and mistakes can are very teachable moments.  Also, the notion that there could be more than one answer is rarely explored.

Good Points:  This process requires observations and personal perspective.

Bad Points: Your observations and personal perspective is based upon your prior knowledge, the environment, and personal experience.  The situation has the “crack” of personal perspective

Conclusion: I love the idea of “Looping Telling Story”.  As a special educator, I use a similar thought process in using behavior modification when completing a “Formal Behavior Assessment”.  I summarize observations of the student’s inappropriate or less desirable behaviors.  Next, I would write a goal and objective or specially designed instruction.   Then, I would decide based upon more recent observations if the replacement behavior has occurred or the accommodations are appropriate to foster the success of the student.  Finally, based upon the summary of most recent observations would help the IEP team to decide what the next appropriate step would be for this student.


Deborah Hazen's picture

Students trained to get things right

This is a major statement! Students are trained to get things right.

What are the implications for generative dialogue in a pluralistic society if each speaker is focused on being right.

How do we go from Jill's Kindergarten class in which she presses students to defend their summaries with reflection on their observations and fine tune their thinking through conversation to older students who just want to get the right answer? I don't think we can hang this one on grading and assesment schemes (I used to but I've changed my story!).

I think that I might like to explore the developmental stages of learning as kids move from early school to middle school and beyond. I wonder if there is something about the maturation process and the curriculum we present at different developmental levels that supports a move from learning as playing with stories to learning being an acquisition of the right stories. For instance, in general nine year olds love factual explanations, ten year olds get excited about memorizing facts, and eleven year olds while they are beginning to get comfortable with abstract reasoning prefer new work and concepts to going over and fine tuning previous work. And all along the way these kids are becoming more socially insecure and unwilling to lose face in front of their peers.

So, when they want me to tell them the answer or pore over books full of factoids is this developmentally appropriate and do my invitations to engage in an emergence based classroom simply frustrate them to no end. Would it be far better to recognize and play to their development strength (if my story is a good story) and use the upper elementary years as a time for them to build the background knowledge that will come in handy when they move into high school or college and are brain ready for the emergence approach? This has never been my story before...and it may very well change before the end of today. But right now, it feels right to sit with this story.

Kathy Swahn's picture

science as story telling

Science as story telling:

Good points:

Allows all learners to become more active with less fear of being “wrong”.

Allows students to utilize and share background knowledge.  Creating open dialog and shared experiences therefore creating teaching and learning experiences.

“Getting less wrong” works well within the classroom setting when utilized with the question, “Why are your results different than…?”  Opens the mind to considering what could be done differently next time.

Bad points:

Opens subjectivity to new learners which becomes difficult for students still within the concrete thinking stage.

Often students want an answer cut and dry – this often becomes frustrating for the student.

My three chosen science words were hard, boring, and fascinating. These became the first words that came to mind based on the opinions that I hear from students and parents on a regular basis. I spend a great deal of time teaching students to get rid of the preconceived notions that science is hard or boring. I utilize the premise that a student has plenty of background knowledge to incorporate into the new learning processes and labs are subjective therefore they will only be asked, “Why is your lab different from the expected results?” By eliminating the stress of being view as “wrong” the student usually finds some fascination.

Deborah Hazen's picture

Wrong or different?

Does the question "why are your results different than...?"  in a lab with a clearly defined outcome assume that the student got it wrong?

Kathy Swahn's picture

deborah reply

Assuming we have labs that are tried and true (give or take) I want the student to think about what they did in total - maybe they found another way.

Antoinette Sisco's picture






Initial thoughts...

"She's poetry in motion..."  She blinded me with science by Thomas Dolby


Ever changing...growing knowledge

Thoughts about today so far...

  The concept of open ended transactional inquiry allows for learning, experimenting and growing in things: I know I don’t know, I thought I knew well, and things I want to know more about.  The process of “knowing” remains a term with relative and abstract ramifications.  In the years since I first “discovered” the Brain and Behavior Institute, I have become more comfortable with the concept of usable stories.  Science to me helps understand the mysteries of God’s creation, without fear of competing values.  I can accept that I have a set of values tied to knowledge, understanding and experimenting, which are intrinsically valuable to me.     

  Sometimes it is difficult to separate my opinions/ premises’ from my understanding of my conclusion, or the “crack” the reasoning that I apply to my making sense of the usable observations.   How useful my summaries may or may not be to others is an area of struggle for me as an educator.

elovejoy's picture

The three words that first

The three words that first came to my mind when I heard "science" were:

  • big bang theory
  • questions
  • experiments

Some themes that teachers expressed interest in learning more about were:

  • music and the brain
  • language and the brain
  • ways to teach students to retain information better
  • special education and differences in the brain
  • right-brained thinking
joycetheriot's picture



There will always be "experts" both in the classroom and the world in general. Our opinions of the experts will vary but generally these are the people who go the extra mile to gather and organize information that is often new.

The ecologist, White, who spends 30 years in the desert collecting lizard tails conducts research that adds new information to our understanding of the behavior and biology of this species. Not a job I’d enjoy but I recognize his contribution to our spectrum of science information.

The women who have lived within the gorilla and chimp environment made wonderful contributions with their observations. Yes, they had their own POV that some scientists did not recognize as the objective view needed for a scientist but their humanity and sacrifice had a great impact on the hearts and minds of many people and advanced the protection of these species.

The students in our classroom who go the extra mile to study, research and ask questions will become the recognized “experts” in our classrooms. We are after all a model of the society in general, so why not develop experts who can help others. Within the culture of the classroom, teachers can orchestrate a symphony of cooperative learning based on what each member can contribute. We always need to be watchful that the flow of information does not veer toward misunderstandings so constant checks and balances are required. We need to apply tests (does the circuit work?) and have open discussions as well as individual journaling. The teacher keeps the topic open and available for questioning and testing.




Judith Lucas-Odom's picture


The three words that first come to mind when I hear the word science are:  fun, exciting, and inquiry learning.

I personally still have problems with the "crack".   I think that the teacher is the person in the crack and the person that keeps both sides flowing. There are some students who would find making observations and summaries fun and others are reluctant.  My goal is to try to teach students to make observations and summaries instead of just trying to find facts and answers.  This is the hard for me, especially at the 9th grade level. My goal is to try to create ideas that will help me.  This morning I made a summary of observations and I will test to make more summaries and hopefully I won't fall through the crack.

Jill Bean's picture

Science thoughts

My initial response to "Science".

1.  exploratory/explorations

2.  happening all the time/a type of learning

3.  fun!

Science as story telling?  I think looking at science as a process of story telling seems like a more natural way of learning; a logical explanation of what I see kids doing all the time to make sense of their world. Learning is not linear; it goes forwards and backwards and even around.  Forming stories and revising them happen all the time, in both social and academic contexts.  In fact, (at least with my younger students) they are often so good at creating stories that it is difficult for them to separate their stories from their obeservations. 

"The crack" is definitely a sticky point.  I don't think it implies that everyone's stories are equally valid.  While it may be a good story for a specific student, better and better stories can be developed through shared stories and shared observations.  Acknowledging that each person has their own background that affects their thoughts seems freeing to me.  If everyone could acknowledge their own limitations, perhaps people could become more open to exposing themselves to the unfamiliar and unknown in hopes to moving closer to the “less wrong”. 

I feel like a teacher's job is to present specific situations, explorations, and differing observations that will force/allow for new observations and for a child to revise their current story. I'm curious about situations where our students are resistent to accepting new observations and revising their own stories.  As well as the need for teachers to really know their students, otherwise there is a danger of  presenting something that is so far beyond their own experiences that they withdraw and reject the alternatives. 



Deborah Hazen's picture

Not equally valid

What criteria will determine which ideas are more valid than others? Or better question, how do we, as educators guard against simply passing on a canonical view of the world? On the one hand we are asking for transactional inquiry, on the other we are assessing their ability to demonstrate that they understand the material. We tell them when their ideas are off track...but how do we know that the idea we call off track isn't simply the new way of seeing a situation that will become the new story?

Jill Bean's picture

Deb, in reply to your

Deb, in reply to your revised question, I think that we can evaluate a "new story" by asking the students to defend their stories and to explain how their stories account for the data.  I do this with my kindergartners a lot.  They are still developing their own stories and I hesistate to tell them that they are wrong.  Instead I ask "What do you mean?" "Can you tell me more?"  "How does that match what we saw?"  etc.  Through this process I can sometimes have a better sense of who is really thinking about the world in a new way and who simply misunderstanding a phenomenon or is even guessing.  It's not fool proof though, as some students react to those questions the same way as if I had told them they were wrong.  Further more their understanding may still be "immature" but then I have good feedback on other types of experiences they need to encounter to develop more sophisticated stories. 

Jill Bean's picture

I'm not sure valid is the

I'm not sure valid is the best term to use, perhaps I mean "least wrong".  Anyway, I think determining the best stories comes by accounting for a large numbers of observations (including observations over time) and through examining all the stories out there and using the story that best supports the observations gathered to that point. 

GShoshana's picture


three words that came to mind:

-body of the human being




We spoke about true and false, science is not definite and you have to do experiments and have different answers.  This creates good thinking skills.

Deborah Hazen's picture

Science Starting Thoughts

questions, Bill Nye the Science Guy, "How do they know that?"

Science has always been about asking questions---my pre-college science classes emphasized this approach to science. I guess I was lucky. It wasn't until I went to college and enrolled in freshman bio and chem that science became about multiple choice tests and replicating labs proctored by TAs.  Bill Nye was one of my daughter's favorite shows when she was young. "How do they know that?" is the common refrain in my classroom--especially as we tried tackling evolution this past spring!

I am heartened to talk about "the crack" and the role of things like cultural background, personal temperment and individual creativity in science summaries. Social scientists have long wrestled with this.

We talk about the importance in science education of encouraging kids to get things wrong--because it is in the "getting things wrong" that we move forward. So I'm intrigued by the idea that we tell stories about our observations because we want to make sense of the world. Given that we want to make sense of the world, then how "natural" is it for us to want to look toward summaries and activities that don't emphasize getting the "right answer."

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