Sunday, 1 July 2012

"Bad Science" from Science in School Journal

I promised myself that I would try more activities and ideas inspired by articles from the science in school, school science review and physics education journal.

The first of those was an activity made for the classroom and in issue 22 of science in schools. The purpose for choosing the article is explained in a previous blog post: I want to improve the ability of the students to analyse information and interpret data.

I suspected from the previous lesson that my group would have difficulty with written information and using their general knowledge and imagination to solve the problems, so I wanted to structure the task as much as possible.

We started by looking at three locations and discussing the differences between them. I was impressed that after a few prompts the ideas started to flow. The difficulty came in "nomilisation"; the students were unable to express their ideas in single words and were grasping for expressions for things like "standard of living" and "climate".

Coming up with a plan of how to study whether eating more olive oil affected the amount of wrinkles someone has proved difficult. There were ideas about letting some people eat olive oil, but time frames were too short and the practical implications of monitoring someone's diet were not considered. It was very difficult for the group to imagine the idea of a study of this sort.

After we discussed how to study the effect of eating olive oil on wrinkles I gave the group a summary of the information of a real study. The students had to analyse the information and produce a newspaper report that was 50 words long.

Again this was a difficult task. The important information was tricky to pick out and the students struggled to relate the news paper article they were to write to olive oil once they had seen other pieces of information in the article.

However, I was pleased in the end that the students were able to answer the plenary question well. It was "would you stop eating butter if there was a headline saying it caused cancer?" The students were able to give lots of insight about how they needed to know figures before they could make an informed decision. Which shows progress.

This activity is worthwhile and I would suggest it for a level 5 and above group. More structure and support would be needed for students below this level. I have one more attempt next week.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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