Quinn & Bell, 2013 make connections between A Framework for k-12 Science Education and the role of designing, making, and playing when learning science in various contexts. The authors make the case that the formal (i.e. school) and informal (i.e. museums) educational settings should work in tandem to create a more seamless learning experience for students. The interest generated through design and play in informal environments can be leveraged to encourage a deeper appreciation of core scientific concepts in formal settings. The authors note that in order to implement the new science standards, the formal sector should focus on incorporating practice in addition to knowledge; at the same time, the informal sector should include more focus on knowledge in addition to design and play (“minds on” as well as “hands on”). In this way, the formal and informal sectors may collaborate to improve science literacy, creativity, and critical thinking skills.
Braund & Reiss, 2007 contend that science education is in a “crisis” because students fail to form positive attitudes towards science. According to the authors, the reason for this may be the lack of authenticity of science in the classroom, including the overuse of the laboratory for “practical work”. Indeed, students may be put off of science because they see the lack of authenticity. Today’s students are also more challenging to engage (or impress): “the days are long gone when pupils of secondary age would be impressed by a demonstration of a collapsing can when attached to a vacuum pump… or the meanderings of desiccated woodlice or dazzled maggots.” Informal learning experiences can provide benefits for students by cultivating interest, promoting social relatedness, and improving learning outcomes. Thus, schools and informal learning environments should collaborate to make science education more authentic.
These two articles differ from other articles we have read so far because they emphasize the affective side of science education. These articles call into question the real purpose of science education - is it to transmit knowledge and correct misconceptions, or to help students develop a positive attitude towards science and empower students to take control of their own learning?