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Summer K-16 Institutes on Inquiry/Brain/Science/Education




Continuing Conversation


A place for people who were in the summer institutes during summer 2009 to leave thoughts about how those experiences have been significant in their classrooms this year, and for anyone else interested to help continuing thinking about the brain, inquiry, science education, and education generally ....


Paul Grobstein's picture

inquiry and labs

(posted for Kathy Swahn)

Okay - so I have been spending a LOT of time thinking about this summer Science as Inquiry AND I still conclude that students need a certain amount of background knowledge to be successful. It ties in to Brain and Behavior as well. I still believe that if we just toss a student into a lab without some "expected outcomes" we set them up for the uncomfortable feeling of failure. They need to feel secure in "not getting answers so wrong". I find that even when students have been given the background the vast majority - not all still have a tough time making connections. I will conclude that it could be the age of the student I work with (many are just emerging beyond concrete thinking patterns) and/or limited interest (even when presented with "fun labs").

Check out my wiki to see labs I have done so far this year (in the homework section. Newton's Laws 1 & 2 lab is an excellent example of a very basic fun lab that students still struggle with. I usually teach background and then present the labs with instruction of "how to" but little intervention beyond that point so the students still feel as if they are discovering the lab with their lab partners.

joycetheriot's picture

Student Background Information

Hi Kathy, glad you're doing well!

I posted a related topic on my blog regarding students' background understanding.  I would be interested in your ideas regarding how we can develop meaningful science connections with our students.

I'm teaching Chemistry and Biology now but will be starting Electricity within the Physics unit in January and I'd be happy to send you activities related to that as well as Newton's Laws if you're interested.

Best Wishes for a great year!

Kathy Swahn's picture

student brains

I read your article and love the idea of questioning during labs with a clip board. I always wander about and see how students are doing, IF they are on task, and answer any questions they may have. Maybe the clip board looks and feel more offical for them. I think I will give it a try - next time around.

I will make it to Electricity in the spring would love to hear your ideas. I have a few chapters (waves, light, and sound) before I get to it. I'll get to enjoy my institute goodies!! I am always looking for new and better ideas. I usually will do a lab the first time the way it was presented and then change it to what I need.

I love cheap labs (especially in this economy) and I love labs that are more easily figured out. I love to offer success! I am planning a sling shot lab soon, EPE and projectile motion. I am planing it after the "Punkin Chunkin" in Delaware. The science channel will air it I think on the 26th this month. The students will have had theirs and I hope they will watch the sci channel. I am currently making the mini bean bag pumpkins and the sling shot type devices. Would love some ideas for questions to along with to create a full lab. Remember my students are 8th grade! Hope your school year is going well - Kathy

Paul Grobstein's picture

some follow-ups

Used conversations this summer for some sessions with a group of ed students here in a class of Alice's.  See The Brain and Education: Three Loops and Conflict Resolution

Great session with the science faculty at Delaware Valley Friends based on conversations this summer.  See notes at Science as Open-Ended Transactional Inquiry: The Three Loops and their Implications for the Classroom

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