Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 2 Readings


Galileo uses a ‘dialogue’ between three men to illustrate the idea of and initial misunderstandings with uniform and accelerated motion. Through Salviati, Galileo demonstrates the relationships between displacement, velocity, and acceleration using a variety of examples. Simplicio shares common misunderstandings and allows Sagredo and Salviati to explain why Galileo’s argument is sound. Galileo makes a precise stepwise argument with clear definitions and thorough explanations to avoid confusion. These kinds of ‘dialogues’ between students still exist in modern science; this ‘dialogue’ reminds me of students collaborating and discussing possible ideas behind a scientific concept. The ‘dialogue’ could just as well be concerning theories of DNA replication or the relationship between a protein’s structure and its function. With respect to Lehrer, it is interesting to wonder how these ‘dialogues’ can fit into a lesson embedded with scientific inquiry. Student collaboration can and should be an essential part of student inquiry, which can be accomplished in a group setting.Thinking in the future when I will be teaching, it is necessary to mirror Galileo’s clear arguments in my future lessons. Student understanding requires arguments with clear definitions and thorough explanations between each logical step. Without these criteria for lessons met, students are likely to fall into common traps of misconceptions that could have been avoided with deliberate and careful instruction.

Hazen & Trefil:

Hazen and Trefil outline the discoveries of some great scientific minds, from Newton to Kepler, and how these different scientists influenced each other across time and space. I find it fascinating how each scientist built upon the ideas and discoveries of the last to lead to Einstein’s ultimate revelation of the general theory of relativity. I also find it interesting to think of how science is socially situated. Hazen and Trefil mention how science provide definite quantitative knowledge, but it cannot be denied that many other disciplines, from literature to music, offer knowledge, albeit of a qualitative type.With respect to Galileo, it would be very helpful for student understanding to design and implement an experiment of student inquiry that investigates a principle investigated possibly hundreds of years ago by great scientific minds such as Newton and Galileo. It would be interesting to design an experiment for students to derive or at least contemplate the laws of motion or gravity in the context of their discovery, i.e. trying to forget all modern knowledge of these now explained phenomenon. In the future, I recognize that it will be important to teach the history of notable biological discoveries, from the discovery of the microscope and the first microscopic organisms to the elucidation of DNA structure.


Lehrer argues that the goal of school is to create an environment in which learners can be actively engage in the types of practices that practicing scientists use in daily life, including modeling and inquiry based learning. This view of the goal of school creates a situation dependent on the teacher’s ability to lead and design student inquiry based lessons and experiments. This school goal also heavily favors kinesthetic learners while leaving auditory and visual learners at a possible disadvantage. As a future teacher, I plan to be able to design effective experiments that promote student inquiry and to teach biology with representational models and analogies. It is important that I remember that learning is a lifelong goal that I can continue by developing professionally and by learning from other teachers and students. Although science isn’t often taught with engagement to inquiry and rather often taught in its final form in more traditional lectures, I plan to involve a healthy mixture of both forms of education in my future classroom.

Week 2 Readings


In this excerpt, Galileo reviews the previously known, mathematically established, laws of uniform motion, then proposes that, based on his experiments, there exists a law of uniform natural acceleration due to gravity.  This proposition and the validity of his experiments to verify it are debated in a journal review session.
The debate between the four reviewers over uniform acceleration illustrates an important aspect of the scientific process – peer review.

Hazen and Trefil, Science Matters:

Hazen and Trefil seek to illustrate the manner in which the body of science is enlarged and developed through the process by which Isaac Newton developed his laws of motion and universal gravitation.
Science is possible because the universe is ordered and may be understood
Science may advance one of 2 ways
    o Revolution: out with the old, in with the new (a la Kepler, very rare)
    o Incorporation: incorporates the work of previous researchers without invalidating it.
Finally, they provide an overview of the major branches of science


In this letter, after putting forth a summary of the ways in which children learn, Lehrer proposes that the best way to get children to not simply learn scientific facts but think like scientists is to utilize modeling.
Ways children learn: Tasks, Inscriptions, Material Means, Argument, and developing a disciplinary Identity (helping students think of themselves as scientists)
Utilizing open ended modeling, such as in the compost piles and fruit flies, helps students develop the curiosity utilized in science

These readings look at the question How does science advance?  Hazen and Trefil answer the question most clearly in their discussion of the scientific method and the concept of Incorporation.  Galileo’s work adds to this through the concept of peer review and illustrates the process described by Hazen and Trefil.  Lehrer then argues that the best way for students to learn science is to step into the role of an investigator and, as we discussed in class last week, learn science by doing science.  I agree that this is likely one of the most effective ways to help students learn to think like scientists.  However, time constraints due to the number of concepts that must be taught, especially in such a diverse content area as biology, and requirements due to standardized tests and/or state laws may prevent the use of modeling as often as we might like.

Week 2 Readings

The following are the summaries for Week 2 reading selections:

Galileo: Two New Sciences: pg. 153-175

  • ·      This reading was a conversation between three different men, who each represented a different viewpoint on Galileo’s work.
  • ·      Salviati was in an agreement with Galileo. He really wanted to make the other two men understand why (in his opinion) Galileo was correct in his concept for motion, both uniform and accelerated.
  • ·      Sagredo was a friend of Galileo, but was still open minded and wanted answers to these various newfound concepts of motion.
  • ·      Simplicio was considered a ‘straw man’ but others classified as a follower of Aristole who believed in practicality. Both his and Sagredo contradicted Salviati.
  • ·      The article deals with Galileo’s definition of uniform and accelerated motion, which Salviati believes, but Sagredo and Simplicio have reservations about.

Lehrer: Designing to Develop Disciplinary Dispositions

  • ·      In this reading, Richard Leher is giving a new approach to teaching discipline specific concepts in the same practice as the professionals in the field.

  •  ·      Leher gives a “generic toolbox” that can be used to achieve this.

o   Tasks: give a task that will allow students to think in terms to given knowledge.
o   Inscriptions: recording information in regards to tasks
o   Material Means: Insuring that materials are available for given tasks
o   Modes and Means of Argument: How does one approach the problem or argument?
o   Identity: What part of the subject does this task relate to?

  • ·      He explains how this toolbox can be useful for teachers in incorporating knowledge into practical application, which is the same concept that professionals in the field.

  • ·      He also gives an example of this with designing a science education.

Hazen and Trefil: Science Matters

  • ·      In this reading, Robert Hazen and James Trefil speak about the history of science, which included scientists such as Newton, Galileo, and Kepler.
  • ·      They also spoke on the concept and simplicity of why science is science and why it is so interdisciplinary.

These three readings each show that the conversations that arise are relevant to each other. In the Galileo reading, the conversation was one of learning and trying to explain the knowledge that was understood by one, but not by the other two. Also, two of the men did not just accept Galileo’s explanations as fact, but decided to question in order to gain further knowledge. This concept supports Hazen and Trefil’s concept of science being so interdisciplinary and Leher’s concept of having a disciplinary education in the school system.

Questions that arose for me were:

1.     For Leher, if the generic toolbox is used, how can the interdisciplinary aspect of science be incorportated?

2.     Can the Galileo conversation model be used in Leher’s generic toolbox in order to engage the “Science of Practice”?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Memo #1: Galileo, Lehrer, and Hazen & Trefil

Galileo: Dialogues Concerning the Two New Sciences

     Galileo sets out to explain superficial observations about uniform motion and naturally accelerated motion through the use of mathematical ratios involving distance, speed, and time. Through the use of his three characters, Sagredo, Salviati, and Simplicio, Galileo uses various thought experiments and diagrams to prove the physics behind uniform motion, free-falling objects, and maintaining heavy bodies in positional equilibrium.
  • ·      Science as a dialogue: Galileo uses various characters and perspectives to provide the reader with an insight into the process of how he is reaching his conclusions.
  • ·      Thought experiments: Galileo’s science relies on detailed and carefully crafted scenarios that can be reasonably observed in real life. However, this is very different from science as we typically imagine it (as seen by the lack of numerical data, replicable trial runs, etc.).

Lehrer: Developing Disciplinary Dispositions

     Lehrer stresses the importance of mimicking a discipline’s epistemic culture (acquiring the skills required for learning in each discipline) in the teaching of that discipline. In science, he suggests that modeling and experimental design can help achieve this goal. By learning what is considered valid for proving your knowledge in the field of sciences, students can gain an aptitude and appreciation for the realities of science.
  • ·      Learning as action: By participating in the realities of the field in the classroom (via the intersection of various materials, tasks, and inscriptions), students will learn about the culture of learning in the sciences.
  • ·      Revision and inventing: By allowing students to invent and edit existing natural models, the students will be able to interact with the systematic approach of science learning.

Hazen and Trefil: Science Matters

     This excerpt defines science as a way to explain the laws that govern the natural world. By analyzing the earliest applications of science and tracing the development of the field of science throughout the ages, the authors demonstrate how the field of science is constantly evolving. However, its purpose in explaining natural phenomena and applying these explanations to everyday life, has remained a constant identifier through centuries.
  • ·      Evolution of science: The authors use the example of Newton’s laws to illustrate how preconceived notions of motion could be overturned through observations and experimentation.
  • ·      Interdisciplinary nature of science: Although there are highly numerous scientific specialties, research from one field and influence and explain phenomena in another field.

Overall, these readings described how even throughout centuries of scientific observation and experimentation, similar problems and goals remain relevant today. One key component of scientific inquiry is improving on existing theories and editing models of natural phenomena. This is displayed through Galileo’s and Hazen & Trefil’s discussions the evolution of experimental science and its role in modifying previously accepted scientific truths, which establishes science as a field that constantly innovates. Lehrer similarly discusses the importance of revising and inventing existing models of scientific discovery, and helps shed light on how this tenet of scientific epistemic culture can be incorporated and normalized into the teaching of the STEM disciplines.