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I-have-no-idea-what-im-doing-science-dog

What does it mean to do real science? More importantly, what are the building blocks needed to do real science? How do we communicate our ideas? How do we tell people about what we’re doing?

A powerful quote from the readings this week:

“Exposing students to situations where they use scientific evidence to make informed personal decisions and grapple with societal and global issues helps them develop the critical thinking skills needed for success in the 21st century” (Wilmes and Howarth 26)

The usage of scientific evidence comes from being scientifically literate, but what does this actually mean? How do we become literate members in a scientific community? Students need skills to be able to discern fact from fiction, conduct their own experiments and represent and interpret models, and be inspired by the world around them. Neil deGrasse Tyson consistently puts it best:

Part of what it is to be scientifically-literate, it’s not simply, ‘Do you know what DNA is? Or what the Big Bang is?’ That’s an aspect of science literacy. The biggest part of it is do you think you know how to think about information that’s presented in front of you?

To be scientifically literate is not about memorizing facts, but rather, the ability to think and connect facts, as well as challenge facts that are presented to oneself.

(If you love Neil as much as I do, here is a link to his video on scientific literacy.)

communication

A big part of scientific literacy is the ability to communicate ideas. Sometimes, this is done through research and publications, other times it can be through forms of media such as podcasts or YouTube videos, other times it is about blogging. Whoa, blogging, we really love that at GRS! To put it technically,

A blog is a personalized website that is a collection of entries. The entries may be commentaries, videos, pictures, or similar to journal entries. Readers can stay updated on new entries by subscribing to the blog. Blogs allow individuals to share writing samples, pictures, and videos with friends, family, and strangers. Other people may leave comments on a blog, allowing for collaboration (Sawmiller 44).

Sawmiller additionally goes on to discuss the importance of being able to communicate in society:

Being able to communicate is indispensable for participation in today’s society. Critical thinking will not just magically occur if writing assignments are given… by blogging, students are required to read information, filter through the relevant pieces, restructure the information, organize it, and determine a meaningful way to write about it. All of these activities fast critical thinking (Sawmiller 45).

As students in the Get Real! Science program, we are able to express our ideas through blogging in a significantly less formal way than critical syntheses/claims/reflections. Blogging makes our content accessible to other individuals who are outside of the education world – they can see the different roles we take on in our program, what we are learning about, and challenges and celebrations we face during the multiple facets of this program. Blogging, for me, is also a very important tool for self-reflection: I am able to go back and look at my posts and see what I was experiencing at any point in time in the last eleven months. This is powerful for me: I’m a very retrospective person, and so the ability to look back on what I’ve experienced and done allows me to consider possibilities for the future, such as how I would handle certain situations in the future, or being able to adapt to challenges that I may face similarly in the future.

in-conclusion-cartoon

Blogging will be an important, constant assignment throughout the program that will prove to be more powerful looking back on it. The ability we have to express our ideas and communicate/collaborate with others in this kind of public space is an essential part of not only learning from each other, but also being able to celebrate the successes our peers are having as well as provide support when they are experiencing challenges. We may not always be able to communicate due to hectic schedules as Warner students, but we certainly all share the common thread of blogging, and through this thread, we can still be an essential support system to our peers.

 

References:

Sawmiller, AlisonClearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, v83 n2 p44-48 2010.
Images:

3 Comments

  1. You crack me up! I love the last picture especially. Seriously though, the quote from NdT about what it means to be scientifically literate is succinct and on-point. I value that.

    I love how you see blogging as connectedness with those sharing your trajectory. Eager to see how the conversations criss-cross through blogging this summer! Keep doing that awesome work of building bridges to your cohort and their ideas.

    April

  2. The first picture on this post had me laughing for a good 2 minutes, as that was EXACTLY my experience while in a chemistry lab. The nightmares are most definitely real, I can assure you that! Moving on, I really enjoyed this blog post, and this point you made made me think about why I came to Warner in the first place…”To be scientifically literate is not about memorizing facts, but rather, the ability to think and connect facts, as well as challenge facts that are presented to oneself.” I couldn’t have said it any better. But I am curious to know, has your idea of what it means to be scientifically literate changed at all since you came to Warner? If it has, I’d be interested to know in what way.

    • Changed probably isn’t the right word, more so developed and had more dimensions added to it. I think my understanding of scientific literacy was very elementary before coming to Warner, and now I think it’s pretty advanced. I guess my definition was something like understanding the language of physics, which is important because it brings all students together in an effort to understand the language, but I think my definition is deeper now and reflects the practices I want my students to be able to master in my classroom in terms of scientific literacy.


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