The Nature of Scientific Thinking

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The Nature of Scientific Thinking Lessons Designed to Develop Understanding of the Nature of Science and Modeling The Understandings of Consequence Project Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education Lesson 1: In What Ways Do Scientists Come to Their Understandings? Photo Credit: En.Wikipedia.org, copyright 1620 Domenico Fetti Understanding Goals ™ While we often hear that scientists use “the scientific method,” scientists draw upon a much broader range of methods in their work. ™ Scientists do not always follow the same prescribed method to further their understanding. ™ We can recognize different trends that scientists of the past and present have used in the discovery process Background Information Scientific Thinking is More Than “the Scientific Method” Students in many science classrooms are presented with the scientific method as the fundamental plan scientists use to gain their understandings. Scientists throughout history have come to their conclusions in a variety of ways, not always following such a specific method. Interestingly, even when scientists do use the scientific method, they rarely use it in the stereotyped, step-by-step way that schools tend to teach it. The following lesson introduces historical case studies of scientists. The case studies reveal that scientists over time have demonstrated a range of methodologies with some common characteristics. Studying these trends can help us in our own thinking in science classrooms. The lesson invites students to analyze the modes of inquiry that scientists engage in and then reflect on what this means for their own scientific thinking. The lesson encourages a constructivist approach to learning; instead of telling students what some of the patterns are in scientists’ thinking, it encourages students to identify the patterns on their own. After reviewing the case studies, students should try to come up with the common patterns demonstrated by the scientists for themselves before you discuss and present additional information to the class. ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 4 While the scientists discussed in this lesson are largely from the past, several contemporary scientists are also included. It is important for students to realize that ways of thinking and knowing in science shift over time. It is also important to realize that if we only look back at famous scientists, it presents a distorted picture of how science in everyday life precedes. We are likely to look back and, with the benefits of 20/20 hindsight, only see those patterns that were important in st the instances studied. Lessons three and four focus on 21 century science and scientists for those teachers who would like to devote the time to exploring how science shifts and changes over time and some patterns specific to current day cutting edge science. You might consider using these lessons at the beginning of the school year before the first science unit is taught (when the scientific method is usually presented). The lessons also might be infused during the school year, making connections when new topics are presented. Patterns in Scientists’ Ways of Finding Out What patterns might students find? Some overall trends that the majority of the scientists seem to follow include: creative and critical thinking; extensive documentation; strong powers of observation; synthesis of information and strong collaboration with others; taking advantage of serendipity; and use of technology and resources (often in a climate of discovery). These patterns are explained below. 1. Creative and Critical Thinking: This involves coming up with new ideas, thinking outside the box, connecting imagination with logic, and then 1 communicating these ideas to others. Many times these ideas go against the prevailing belief system. Here are some examples: Bonnie Bassler – (b. 1962; Discovered that bacteria communicate with chemical 2 language ). While working at a lab near the Pacific Ocean, Bassler noticed organisms that lit up in the water. Upon further study with another geneticist, Mike Silverman, Bassler determined that different species of bacteria have two-way communications with a type of chemical language called quorum sensing. She continued with this research even though other biologists thought it was not worth investigating. In 1994, she was given an appointment at Princeton University, but through the late 1990’s 1 Conner, M. (Spring 2001). Great minds: A thoughtful interview with Michael Gelb. LiNE Zine. Retrieved 28 December, 2006, from http: //linezine.com/4.1/interviews/mgmc.htm 2 Bonnie L. Bassler, Ph.D. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2007 from Howard Hughes Medical Institute: http://www.hhmi.org/research/investigators/bassler_bio.html ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 5 Bassler had difficulties getting money to continue with this research. She continued her hard work with determination. Her theories have now been accepted and today many other scientists believe Bassler’s research could help find new ways to fight 3 deadly strains of disease and world health problems. Sir Isaac Newton – (b. 1643; d. 1727; Physics principles including the Laws of Motion and Universal Gravitation). To build on the earlier ideas of Galileo and Copernicus on the Nature of the Universe, Newton was faced with the challenge of proving his laws of gravitation. He needed more developed math concepts and they 4 did not exist, so he invented Calculus to work on such issues. His ideas were published in his most famous book Principia. Albert Einstein – (b. 1879, d. 1955; Theory of Relativity) Einstein believed strongly in the child-like power of imagination. His quotes include; “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” (Atlantic Monthly 1945) “The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder.” “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination 5 encircles the world.” (The Saturday Evening Post Oct.26, 1929) 2. Extensive documentation – Many scientists keep detailed notebooks, drawings and correspondence of comments, suggestions, and revisions of their ideas, lectures and experiments. Documentation is a means of helping them to download thinking onto paper (reducing the memory load) and of helping them to see patterns that otherwise might go unnoticed. Here are some examples: Leonardo da Vinci – (b. 1452, d. 1519; Many paintings and inventions including plans for a flying machine, helicopter, parachute, bicycle, hydraulic jack, snorkel, world’s first revolving stage, armored tank, mortar, submarine, comparative anatomy, 6 geotropism, fossilization, and a multitude of breakthroughs in optics and mechanics) He compiled 6000 pages of manuscript in mirror handwriting (starting at the right 7 side of the page and moving left) and with intricate drawings. He believed drawing was the key to understanding creation and creativity. He was constantly adding to 3 Silberman, S. (2003, April). The bacteria whisperer. Wired, 11(4). Retrieved March 28, 2007, from http: //www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.04/quorum_pr.html. 4 Conner, M. (Spring 2001). Great minds: A thoughtful interview with Michael Gelb. LiNE Zine. Retrieved 28 December, 2006, from http://linezine.com/4.1/interviews/mgmc.htm 5 Albert Einstein. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2007 from http://www.websophia.com/aphorisms/einstein.html 6 Gelb, M. J. (1998). How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven steps to genius everyday. New York: Random House. 7 Leonardo: Right to left. (n.d.). Retrieved 22 February 2007 from Museum of Science: http://www.mos.org/sln/Leonardo/LeonardoRighttoLeft.html ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 6 his notebooks and first employed the techniques of perspectives and cross section 8 drawing. Sir Isaac Newton – (b. 1643, d. 1727; physical principles including Laws of Motion). Newton kept rigorously detailed notebooks, even as a young student. He didn’t share his scientific thoughts with friends or colleagues. The notebooks were found in a metal box after 200 years. They included over three million words describing his interest in many areas including mathematics, alchemy (chemistry), and astronomy, 9 specifically descriptions of comets. Albert Einstein – (b. 1879, d. 1955; physical principles including Theory of Relativity). He replied to many letters. According to Albert-Laszlo Barabasi of University of Notre Dame and Harvard University and Joao Gama Oliveira of Universidade de, Portugal and Notre Dame, Einstein sent more than 14,500 letters and received 16,200. These two scientists analyzed the correspondence and 10 compared it to the way people reply to emails, calculating response times. Benjamin Banneker – (b. 1731, d. 1806; predictions of solar and lunar eclipses; inventor and astronomer, African American). Banneker kept his extensive observations and calculations of astronomical phenomena in notebooks and journals. 11 His work was eventually published in a six-year series of almanacs. Charles Darwin – (b. 1809, d. 1882; Theory of evolution – Natural Selection). Darwin relied on his voluminous notebooks that included private ideas, questions, fragments of thoughts, notes from his five year voyage on the ship the Beagle, and systematic documentation of specimens collected from the trip. He wrote more than sixteen 12 books. 3. Strong Powers of Observation - Many scientists’ attention to detail and examination of research encompasses many years of investigation to reach their understandings. Barbara McClintock – (b.1902, d. 1992; Genes shift on chromosomes). As the first woman president of the Genetics Society of America, Barbara McClintock’s intense observation and exceptional ability to read patterns of genes in the chromosomes of kernels of corn led to a Nobel Prize for medicine for the discovery of transposition. Her conclusions went against the thinking of the time. She also faced obstacles to 8 Gelb, M. J. (1998). How to think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven steps to genius everyday. New York: Random House. 9 Dyson, F. (2006). The scientist as rebel. New York: New York Review of Books. 10 Dume, B. (26 October 2005). What do Einstein, Darwin, and e-mails have in common? Retrieved 28 December 2006 from http://physicsweb.org/articles/news/9/10/15/1 11 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Banneker; Accessed 7.23.09 12 Museum of Science, Boston. (2005). Darwin: Online Educator’s Guide. http://www.mos.org/darwinguide/synopsis.html Retrieved February, 2007. In-person visit to Museum of Science, Boston, Darwin Exhibit. March 9, 2007. ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 7 13 gaining acceptance because she was a woman. According to Joan Dash, McClintock “used only the ordinary microscope, cross-breeding, and observation. But it was the observation of a scientist to whom each ear of corn was an individual, a member of her family, and the brilliantly colored kernels were as carefully observed as traits of a 14 growing child.” Mary Leakey – (b. 1913; d. 1996; Archeologist and paleoanthropologist discovered early man nicknamed “Nutcracker Man”) Along with her husband Louis, Mary Leakey changed the view we have of early human prehistory. Mary was in charge of 15 the digging sites and was known for her “systematic and careful attention to detail.” She was an artist and illustrated most of what her husband wrote. The Leakey’s most important find happened in 1959 while she was walking her dogs in Tanzania, Africa. She found the remains of ancient man with a ridge on the top of the head. The amazing discovery gave scientists major information about this history of early 16 humans. Jocelyn Bell Burnell (b. 1943) and Antony Hewish (b.1924) – (Discovered pulsars—dense stars from which light seems to “pulse”). In 1967, observing with a radio telescope, graduate student Jocelyn Bell and her advisor Antony Hewish noticed a “strange twinkling” from a particular direction in the sky. Thinking it was interference in the receiver, they continued collecting data. They discovered three radio sources – three objects – that seemed to be pulsing, so they were called 17 pulsars. It is now known that pulsars are very dense stars that, due to several reasons, emit light in a particular direction; the light from the star sweeps around as the star rotates, similar to the light in a lighthouse. This is the first time pulsars were 18 detected. Arno Penzias (b.1933) and Robert Wilson (b. 1936) – (Microwave background radiation exists throughout the universe ).Working at Bell Labs in New Jersey in 1964, Penzias and Wilson were looking for signals with a radio antenna. They had background noise in the signals that would not go away. Through careful investigation – even finding pigeons in the equipment—they still had the noise and 13 Spangenburg, R & Moser, D. K. (1994). On the shoulders of giants: The history of science from 1946 – 1990’s. New York: Facts on File, Inc. 14 Dash, J. (1991). The triumph of discovery: Women scientists who won the Nobel Prize. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Julian Messner. Quotation from p. 91. 15 Spangenburg, R & Moser, D. K. (1994). On the shoulders of giants: The history of science from 1946 – 1990’s. New York: Facts on File, Inc. Quotation from p. 132. 16 Spangenburg, R & Moser, D. K. (1994). On the shoulders of giants: The history of science from 1946 – 1990’s. New York: Facts on File, Inc. 17 Spangenburg, R & Moser, D. K. (1994). On the shoulders of giants: The history of science from 1946 – 1990’s. New York: Facts on File, Inc. Quotation from p. 51. 18 Pulsars. (n.d.). Retrieved 6 April 2007 from NASA: http://www.Imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/doc/science/know_l1/pulsars.html ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 8 decided it was coming from space. The type of echo was microwave radiation. 19 Scientists now have more information as to the composition of our universe. 4. Synthesis of Information and Strong Collaboration with Others - Scientists often support ideas by looking across work in the field and synthesizing it. They work in collaboration, are open to ideas of others, and communicate extensively with colleagues. Jones Salk – (b. 1914, d. 1995; Polio vaccine). Salk brought together a series of findings of other scientists while working with Thomas Francis Jr., developing an influenza vaccination. Along with other scientists, he focused on three strains of the polio virus. Soon after Salk, Albert Sabin developed an oral live vaccine for polio that he felt was more effective and easier to distribute but had difficulty gaining 20 attention. Eventually this was widely adopted. Giglielmo Marconi – (b. 1874, d. 1937; 2,000 mile radio transmission of Morse Code across the Atlantic Ocean). Marconi was a brilliant collaborator and manipulator of other scientists’ findings – he used Heinrich Hertz’s discovery of radio waves in 1888. Hertz died shortly after making this discovery and it was Marconi who realized the importance and uses for these waves. He had the backing of his wealthy family to make the equipment and start the Marconi Wireless Company, the first to send and 21 receive radio transmissions. Sir Isaac Newton – (b. 1643, d. 1727; Laws of Motion). Newton built on earlier observations made by Galileo. He corresponded about Universal Gravitation with 22 Robert Hooke and elliptical orbits with Edmund Halley. Charles Darwin – (b. 1809, d. 1882; Theory of evolution – Natural Selection). Darwin had many scientific mentors and role models. Darwin sent his collections to experts for identification and made use of other advisors who included gardeners and 23 zookeepers. He corresponded with fellow naturalists around the world. As meticulous as Darwin was, he was made some errors while studying finches on his voyage to the Galapagos Islands. He failed to note which islands some of the birds 24 came from. The ship’s captain had recorded the correct information, not Darwin. 19 Spangenburg, R & Moser, D. K. (1994). On the shoulders of giants: The history of science from 1946 – 1990’s. New York: Facts on File, Inc. 20 Balchin, J. (2003). Science: 100 scientists who changed the world. New York: Enchanted Lion Books. 21 Gelb, M. J. (1998). How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven steps to genius everyday. New York: Random House. 22 Kilgour, F.G. (1982). William Harvey. Scientific genius and creativity: Readings from Scientific American. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company 23 Same as footnote 15 (from Museum of Science exhibit only) 24 Metz, K. (1997). On complex relation between cognitive developmental research and children’s science curriculum. Review of Education Research, 67(1), 154-156. ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 9 5. Taking Advantage of Serendipity – Many discoveries happened while scientists were looking for something else, sometimes they were by accident, and 25 sometimes after specific experiments provided surprising findings. Not all science is explored solely by controlled experiments. Louis Pasteur – (b. 1822, d. 1895; Pasteurization process). Pasteur started out looking for what causes wine to sour and an accident with chicken cholera bacteria lead Pasteur to the development of vaccines and to make significant contributions to our 26 understanding of microbial biology. Antoine Henri Becquerel – (b. 1852; d. 1908; Radioactivity). Investigating x-rays, Becquerel noted the use of radioactive materials for medicine after he was 27 accidentally burned by some radium left in his pocket. Alexander Fleming – (b. 1881; d. 1955; Penicillin). Fleming discovered mold in his lab that was left there over a vacation and used the connection in the production of 28 penicillin. It took ten more years for the production of large amounts. Frederick Kekule – (b. 1829; d. 1896; Structure of benzene ring). A configuration of the structure of benzene came to Kekule in a dream as he was napping on a bus. He dreamt of a snake circling with a tail in its mouth and it inspired thoughts as to the 29 structure of benzene. George de Mestral – (b. 1907, d. 1990; Velcro – a type of hook and loop fastener). While walking his dog in the woods in Switzerland, de Mestral found burrs stuck to 30 his pants and realized that the concept could apply to fasteners. Charles Goodyear – (b. 1800, d. 1860; Vulcanized Rubber). In 1839, after working on a stronger rubber material that was not affected by changes in temperature, Goodyear accidentally dropped a mixture of rubber with sulfur on a hot stove and it boiled over. When sulfur and other additives are combined, and heat and pressure 31 are applied, a vulcanized or hardened rubber can be used for vehicle tires. 25 Dunbar, K. (1995). How scientists really reason: Scientific reasoning in real-world laboratories. In R.J. Sternberg, & J. Davidson (Eds.), Mechanisms of insight, 365-395. Cambridge, M.A.: MIT Press. 26 Balchin, J. (2003). Science: 100 scientists who changed the world. New York: Enchanted Lion Books. BBC History. Louis Pasteur. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/pasteur_louis.shtml. Retrieved June 28, 2007. 27 Balchin, J. (2003). 28 Balchin, J. (2003). 29 Roberts, R. M. (1989). Serendipity: Accidental discoveries in science. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 30 Roberts, R. M. (1989). 31 Goodyear. The Charles Goodyear Story. http://www.goodyear.com/corporate/history/history_story.html Retrieved June 28, 2007. Reprinted from Reader’s Digest (1958), The Strange Story of Rubber. ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 10 Archimedes – (b. 287 B.C., d, 212 B.C.; Volume of irregular solids – Archimedes Principle). While thinking about a problem for King Hiero about the authenticity of a gold crown, Archimedes was taking a bath and noticed when he got in the tub some water spilled out. He made the connection to his volume and water displacement and 32 then transferred this idea to the volume of the gold crown. Sir Isaac Newton – (b. 1643, d. 1727; Laws of Motion and Universal Gravitation) Newton saw an apple fall from a tree (it may be a myth that the apple actually hit him in the head) and reasoned that a force must have pulled the apple to the ground. He 33 saw a connection between this force and the orbit of the moon around the earth. 6. Use of Technology and Resources (Often in a Climate of Discovery) – These scientists used the techniques available at the time and had a vision of what was to come. Many experienced an environment that fostered experimentation and research. Often they had patrons with access to money and facilities of a laboratory and/or university setting. Leonardo da Vinci – (b. 1452, d. 1519; Many inventions as outlined above). da Vinci lived at a very enlightened time in Florence and had several wealthy patrons. Leonardo was fascinated with the latest inventions of his time and if the technology 34 was not available he imagined what could be used. Many of his manuscripts included sketches of these creations. Sir Isaac Newton – (b. 1643, d. 1727; Laws of Motion and Universal Gravitation). Math at the time was limited, so Newton invented Calculus as a tool to resolve his 35 questions. Thomas Edison – (b., 1847; d. 1931; Incandescent light bulb). Edison practiced continuous questioning and registered for 1,093 patents. He founded a research and development center in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Of note is that his virtual deafness contributed to less distraction according to his colleagues. Edison engaged in a strong 36 pursuit of learning. Charles Darwin – (b. 1809, d. 1882; Theory of evolution – Natural Selection). Darwin collected microscopes, magnifying glasses and chemicals to pursue his investigations. His wealthy family included his paternal grandfather who was an inventor and bold thinker, and the famous Wedgwood China family on his mother’s side. He grew up during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution when the worldview was starting to 32 Balchin, J. (2003). 33 Balchin, J. (2003). 34 Baumgaertel, F. (1997). Leonardo Da Vinci – A Genius and His Time. Leonardo Homage to Leonardo da Vinci by IWC and Mercedes Benz, Zurich: Haumesser Publishing, 1997, pp. 6 – 8. 35 Conner, M. (Spring 2001). Great minds: A thoughtful interview with Michael Gelb. LiNE Zine. Retrieved 28 December, 2006, from http://linezine.com/4.1/interviews/mgmc.htm 36 Balchin, J. (2003). ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 11 expand. He attended the University of Cambridge and Edinburgh University and made many scientific contacts. Towards the end of his life the younger scientists were questioning the religious views of the times and defended Darwin’s theory of 37 evolution. Joycelyn S. Harrison (b. 1963) is a scientist who specializes in chemical engineering 38 at NASA Langley Research Center. She researches polymers and uses this 39 information and advanced technology to invent new materials. These new materials will be used to improve satellites and may be used in the future to form synthetic 40 muscles in robots. Your class might notice other patterns in addition to or instead of those described here. The exact set of patterns that each class comes up with is less important than having students think deeply about scientific thinking and how nuanced it can be in comparison to what we are often led to believe. 37 Same as footnote 15 (Museum of Science exhibit) 38 July, 2009, from http://oeop.larc.nasa.gov/fwp/won/won-profile.html 39 July 2009, from http://www.cnn.com/fyi/interactive/specials/bhm/story/black.innovators.html 40 http://inventors.about.com/od/hstartinventors/a/Harrison.htm ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 12 Lesson Plan Materials ¾ Student notebooks or journals ¾ Case studies ¾ White board or chart paper Prep Step ¾ Review lesson plan, background information and understanding goals ¾ Make copies of detailed and short case studies for the class Analyze Thinking Step 1: Reveal Current Thinking Start with a group discussion. Ask students to share the ways they think scientists go about making scientific discoveries. Write their ideas on the board or on large white paper. Responses may include doing experiments, researching information on the web, talking to other scientists, etc. Then, instruct students to make their own list in their science notebooks or journals. Once they have done this, have them share their list and add it to the class list. Ask students to share any other ideas they have at this time. Follow up with these ideas and ask them to explain their thoughts. Step 2: Thinking About How Scientists Come to Discoveries Ask the class if they can think of particular scientists and what they are famous for discovering. Have them think back to other grades and topics they studied. Record as a group what scientists and discoveries the class comes up with. If you do not get too many responses ask the class if they know what Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were famous for (The light bulb and the Theory of Relativity). You can include any scientists you think they may have studied. Pose the question “Do you think that these scientists came to their discoveries in the same way?” Listen to the responses. They may include – they are different topics so the way they came to their understandings would be different, they had different technology and did different experiments. Tell them that they did have ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 13 various methods for the units of study, but there are several patterns or trends we notice that they have in common. We are going to study some scientists from our past and present and see what the class thinks the patterns are. We will discuss the trends and our goal will be to apply the scientists’ methods to our own thinking in science class. Step 3: Analyzing Scientist Case Studies Hand out the scientist detailed case studies from the Resources Section. Read the first case study as a class and have students write in their notebooks the name of the scientist, what his discovery was, and all the ways the scientist made their discovery. Possible Answers for Case Study 1: Charles Darwin Darwin developed the theory of Natural Selection (living things came from a common ancestor and adapted over time to their environment). Some ways that he came to his understandings include: • Extensive documentation — notebooks, sketches, letters, manuscripts and organizing collected specimens • Collaboration with others — wrote letters and consulted with scientists and experts, help from professors and teachers • Use of resources available — did research at universities; money from his family helped his studies, used microscopes, magnifying glasses, and chemicals • Take advantage of serendipity — right place to get job on ship, the Beagle, looking for a particular specimen and found many varieties • Creative and critical thinking — went against the known theories of the times • Strong powers of observation — involved in over twenty years of study before publishing his findings. Discuss their ideas in depth. Explore different points of view. Are their methods obvious, do students differ with each other, can we always be sure, is historical information always accurate? Instruct the class to read the second case study. They should do the same thing with this second entry and then compare the second scientist’s methods with the first scientist. What is the same and what is different in terms of their pattern of investigation? ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 14 Possible Answers for Case Study 2: Leonardo da Vinci da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, scientist, city planner, cartographer (mapmaker), and military engineer. Some ways that he came to his understandings include: • Extensive documentation — notebooks with close to 6,000 pages of notes (in shorthand and mirror writing), sketches, drawings, and maps • Collaboration with others — apprentice to a master painter, worked with assistants and had pupils of his own, shared ideas with fellow guild members • Use of resources available — was given work through the ruling Medici family and Andrea de Verrocchio, was constantly creating and trying out his inventions • Creative and critical thinking — the list of massive accomplishments shows an amazing ability to think outside the box • Strong powers of observation — extremely detailed drawings and sketches Possible Answers in Comparing Darwin and da Vinci Both Darwin and da Vinci documented their ideas, worked with others, spent many years developing their ideas, took advantage of resources available to them, and had many accomplishments. They lived and worked on different discoveries in different times. Tell students that as they read more case studies, several more themes should emerge. Also have the class think about what they do as science students and how they explore science concepts. This will be addressed in Lesson 2. Depending upon how much class time you have you could assign further case studies or assign several for homework. Both of the detailed case studies (Charles Darwin and Leonardo da Vinci) and the short case studies included in the Background Information — Patterns of Scientists’ Ways of Finding Out are available at the end of the lesson as handouts. Review, Extend, Apply Step 4: Discussing the Case Studies If you assigned several case studies in class or for homework, take the next part of a class period to go over what the students investigated. Write down as a class ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 15 what patterns they noticed with the scientists they read about. Can they make any connections in terms of the types of discoveries, the times they lived, and their overall circumstances? Step 5: Researching a Scientist who is not on the List Explain to the class that you want them to research a scientist not on our case study list. Have the students find a scientist, check with you (you may choose to have each student in the class study a different scientist or assign several groups in the room to work on the same scientist), and have them include in a short report: 1. Name of scientist, birth date, date of death (if applicable), and some facts about their early life. 2. What were they famous for and a brief description of their discovery? 3. What ways did the scientists go about making their discoveries? How did they come to their ideas? 4. A bibliography of their sources. 5. Any other information they feel is important to include. This report can be presented as an oral presentation. The class can then keep track of what methods the various scientists used and look for trends. This activity could take several class periods or assigned as a short-term project. You may also consider doing this at other times during the school year. Step 6: Making Connections to One’s Own Thinking Pose the following question “Do you notice how you learn science? Think about how you thought about the world around you as a young child, and about studying science in your science classes over the years. Is there anything the same about your science investigations and those of the scientists you have studied so far?” This topic will be revisited in an upcoming lesson. ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 16 Lesson 2: How Might Patterns of Scientific Thinking Impact Our Own Learning? Photo Credit: FreeClipArtNow.com, c. 2008 Understanding Goals ™ The thinking patterns that scientists use can help us in our own learning. ™ Thinking like scientists includes identifying and pursuing questions about the everyday world. ™ Curiosity and a sense of wonder are characteristics that many scientists recall from their childhood and still hold today. Background Information Building on the previous lesson about how scientists of the past and the present came to their discoveries, this lesson invites students to reflect upon their own scientific thinking. Six trends or patterns of scientific thinking were presented in Lesson 1 and they include (1) creative and critical thinking (2) extensive documentation (3) strong powers of observation (4) synthesis of information and collaboration with others (5) taking advantage of serendipity and (6) use of technology and resources. Students may engage in these forms of thinking without realizing that they are thinking as a scientist would. Thinking like a scientist includes a sense of wonder—searching for questions to explore in the everyday world, and reasoning about possible answers to those questions. In this lesson, help your students to connect back to their “inner scientist.” Curiosity and a sense of wonder are part of the childhood experience. Going back and tapping into this time offers students a sense of what it means to be a scientist. It enables them to test what they are capable of understanding and to make connections to what they are interested in. Recalling activities and situations also validates their personal experiences. Hopefully this excitement about learning something new continues throughout their lives. Many scientists recall moments and activities that guided them to follow a path in science. As we learned from the two detailed case studies in Lesson 1, as very young ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. children both Charles Darwin and Leonardo da Vinci were extremely curious, da Vinci with nature drawings and Darwin with nature collection. As little boys, both scientists also wrote in codes they created. In the book Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a 41 Scientist , John Brockman has compiled twenty seven essays written by present day scientists and asked them to explain what occurred when they were children that encouraged them to follow a life in science. Some interesting examples of childhood recollections include: 1. Murray Gell-Mann – (b. 1929) (physics, Nobel Prize in 1969) Gell-Mann remembers going with his older brother to museums, spending time bird watching, and having a father who had a great interest in science and fostered that in his children. (pp. 35–36). 2. Mary Catherine Bateson – (b. 1939) (cultural anthropologist) Both of Bateson’s parents were anthropologists, Gregory Bateson (background in biology) and Margaret Mead (background in psychology). Bateson remembers from her father “When I think of Gregory, I think of studying tide pools, collecting beetles, constructing an aquarium, and taking and developing photographs together but also of logical puzzles and problem solving” (p. 93). Her mother helped her recognize human behavior and placed an emphasis on “cultural differences: different races, different religious services, visitors from all over the world where she and her colleagues had done research” (p.95). 3. Paul C.W. Davies – (b. 1946). (theoretical physicist and cosmologist) Davies recalls his fascination as an eight year old looking at constellations and shooting stars with his father. He then became interested in light and electricity and at age twelve was given a gift of a photographic developing kit. Two years later he made his own telescope. (pp.55-57). 4. Ray Kurzweil – (b. 1948). (inventor including character recognition software and the music synthesizer). At age four, Kurzweil decided he was going to be an inventor. He built a rocket ship including pieces from an erector set, then moved on to go-carts, boats, and a mechanical baseball game. Both of his parents were artists and greatly influenced his creativity (pp. 164-165). Lesson 2 encourages the class to think about their own childhood experiences, connect to these experiences, and consider how they fit with the six patterns of thinking that scientists use, and with their own science understanding. 41 John Brockman. (2004). Curious minds: How a child becomes a scientist. New York: Vintage Books. ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 18 Lesson Plan Materials ¾ Students notebooks or Journals ¾ White board or chart paper ¾ List of the six trends in scientist’s thinking (on white board or chart paper) Prep Step ¾ Review the lesson plan for Lesson 1 specifically the explanations of the six trends in scientist’s thinking. ¾ Make copies of the five scientists’ recollections of their childhood science experiences (Resources Section). Analyze Thinking Step 1: Reflecting on our science experiences Introduce the following scenario to the class. Say, “We are going to try something different today. I want each of you to take a step back and try to remember when you were much younger. Try to recapture a time when you first remember being curious about the world around you. Everyone has different recollections at various ages. Use the following questions and situations to help spark those memories and answer as many of them as you can.” Slowly read the list to the students, pausing and giving them time to think about each question: “When you were young did you ever wonder what causes a firefly to light up?” “Why do some things sink and others float when you put them in water?” “What causes a rainbow?” “Why is the sky blue?” “Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?” “Did you have a collection of bugs, rocks, shells, plastic dinosaurs, cars or trains? Did you know all their names and characteristics?” ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 19 “Do you remember visiting a zoo, museum, aquarium, farm, tide pool, or observatory?” “Have you ever taken care of an animal or designed and installed a bird feeder?” “Were you the kind of child who took things apart, put models together and always wanted to know how things worked?” “Were you the kind of kid who knew more about the computer and other technology than the adults around you?” “Did you read a lot of books about science topics?” “Do you remember cooking and trying different recipes?” “Answer as many of these questions as you can by thinking about your own experiences including home and school. Write down what you remember being curious about and how you explored this curiosity.” Note to Teacher: When students are thinking about their childhood experiences, have them go back as far as they can remember. Also tell them to include their science classes starting with pre-school and go to the present. While the students are working, think about your own recollections from childhood. Share them with the students in the next step. It will help them to feel comfortable sharing their own recollections. Step 2: Invite the students to share their recollections After the pupils have written down their childhood recollections, invite them to share. Some students may feel shy about sharing their ideas so be sure to encourage a thoughtful environment for the class discussion. Collect their memories on the board or chart paper. Review, Extend, and Apply Step 3: Making a deeper connection to the scientists After the pupils have written down their childhood recollections, discuss what they wrote as a class. You can write down on the board or chart paper their shared memories. Move the discussion toward connecting these experiences to the six trends of the scientists. Say, “The way you thought about and investigated these ideas is very similar to how scientists investigated their topics. As we learned from our last lesson, not all scientists come to their understandings in the same way and neither do we. The patterns of thinking that scientists use can help us in our own learning.” ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 20 Have them refer to a posted list of the six patterns and see if they notice similarities. They should write their reflections in their journals or notebooks and try to be as specific as possible. You may want to have them do this with a partner and share with each other before sharing with the whole class. Then write on the board or chart paper what connections to the six trends they have made as a class. Pass out the recollections of some present-day scientists from the Resources Section. Have the students read them individually or as a group. Ask the students to compare what they read to their own experiences while they are reading. Also review the two detailed case studies from Lesson One on Charles Darwin and Leonardo da Vinci for additional information focusing on their early years. What might students say? Here are some possible answers to connect their recollections to the trends of scientists are as follows: 1. Creative and critical thinking – always asking questions such as “Why is the sky blue?” etc., designing a secret code, imaginative play, thinking outside the box, enjoying projects and open ended questions in school, making connections between different lessons and units, inventing things 2. Extensive documentation – keeping a diary, drawing, doodling, note-taking, outlining, and modeling 3. Strong powers of observation – collections, telescope watching, counting bird species at a bird feeder, recognizing all the different kinds of dinosaurs, experimenting and classroom discussions 4. Synthesis of information and collaboration with others – group play, building a clubhouse or fort, putting ideas together in a classroom lab group, working with others on a group science project or assignment, and study groups 5. Taking advantage of serendipity – trip or hike that had unexpected results, accidental discoveries in school lab or at home, classroom activities that turned out differently than planned 6. Use of technology and resources – taking apart or putting toys or machines together, effectively using the Internet for assignments, designing technology, library resources, specific experiment equipment, school guest speakers, and field trips. ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 21 Picture of Practice Making Connections to How Scientists Think A Middle School Science Class Mrs. C: Would anyone like to share their memories as to what they were curious about as a child? Sarah: I remember taking long walks in the woods near our house collecting all kinds of plants and animals. But I especially remember getting an ant farm for a birthday gift. Mrs. C: What do you remember about that? Sarah: I just remember watching the ants for hours – it was really cool. Mrs. C: That’s excellent Sarah. Does anyone else have a science experience they’d like to tell us about? Mike: I remember building things with legos. I also was constantly taking things apart to see how they worked. Mrs. C: What kind of things? Mike: The computer mouse and video game controller. It drove my parents crazy. Mrs. C: Do you still take things apart? Mike: Yeah, I work on car engines with my older brother. I really like fixing our computer when my parents have trouble with it. Mrs. C: I wonder how many other people in the class do similar things? Step 4: Thoughts About Our Learning After the students have shared their “inner scientist” childhood memories and made connections to real life scientists pose the following questions to them. “Do you think you still connect to your ‘inner scientist’?” “Are you as curious about the world around you as you were as a little child?” Then encourage them to connect to that curiosity now. Say, “Let’s try now to find our present “inner scientist” and connect to that curiosity. What comes to mind and what do you wonder about?” You might get some possible responses such as: “Could we ever travel to other planets?” “I wonder what causes thunderstorms.” ©2010, President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Understandings of Consequence Project of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. 22