Prior to reading the papers, I was intrigued by the titles but still unsure of how their themes would overlap. The first chapter of Hazen and Trefil’s book, Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy, provided a broad overview of science by exploring the history of science, Newton’s laws, and the many different type of scientists. Through all of these different topics, the chapter highlighted the ways scientists (both past and present) use observations and experiences. Lehrer’s paper titled “Designing to Develop Disciplinary Dispositions: Modeling Natural Systems” discussed ways to design effective learning in science. Lehrer focused a large amount of his article on modeling and the impact of modeling on a child’s scientific education. The third and final piece was Galileo’s Two New Sciences. This piece was by far the one I struggled with the most, but what I gathered from it was that it was all of Galileo’s scientific discoveries published in on piece. The parts that I connected back to the other two readings were the times he mentioned either smaller replicas built of larger objects or other mentions of modeling systems.
In all three of these works, I found they focused on the value (and downfalls) of hands-on experiences. These hands-on experiences included modeling, observations, and experiments. The three pieces also touched on the scientific method and tied it back in to these hands-on experiences. For example, Lehrer mentioned an example in which sixth grade students were asked to create a model of aquatic life in a jar. When the sixth graders observed their model ecosystems over time and found that the models were not behaving as they expected, they met in groups and discussed what could be happening and how the model could be improved upon. The scientific method of testing, evaluating, and testing again was at work in those sixth grade classrooms. While models are extremely valuable, it is important to remember that it is incredibly difficult to create a model that exactly mimics the phenomena that we are trying to replicate.
Overall, I thought these readings tied in nicely to the conversation we had last class when we were talking about what we liked about science. The vast majority of us talked about how science was something that was hands-on and was a subject in which it was clear that we could always learn more. Modeling provides a hands-on experience in the classroom, which is something that most of us said we wanted to bring to our own classrooms one day. Additionally, when we explicitly apply the scientific method to the models we use in our classrooms, we demonstrate to our students in a really clear way that there is always more to learn.