I recently came across a blog about the problems that science teachers have. You'll find it at http://halljackson.blogspot.com/2008/09/interactive-labs.html.
"Science teachers have it tough. They have one of the most costly subjects in a school to teach, yet get a very small budget."Ms. Jackson is totally correct in this statement. If we all can assume that textbooks are a similar cost in all courses, then which courses have as much capital equipment and expendables/consumables? All right, which of those are required courses? You just have to come up with science.
Of course, science teachers reach out to free (and low cost) simulations. And, that's great!
A serious problem arises, however, when they substitute those simulations for lab experience. Some of the key reasons for lab experiences in science classes are as follows.
- Understanding the nature of science.
- Developing scientific reasoning.
- Understanding the complexity and ambiguity of empirical work.
Really! Who cares if you can list the first twenty elements in the periodic table or recite the level of taxonomic classification or name the eons, eras, and epochs of geologic time? You can look that stuff up. The real question surrounds the use of this information. And, not just use but wise use.
The three goals above are from America's Lab Report. In that same report, the National Research Council states that the typical American student's lab experience is poor. Their reasons include the lack of meeting these goals among others. They point out that in order to be a science laboratory experience, an activity must use data from the "material world." Simulations do not.
These days, science teachers can find more and more options other than simulations to provide quality lab experience to their students. One such option, the Smart Science(R) core learning system, although not free, is inexpensive and meets all of the goals of America's Lab Report as well as its definition of a science laboratory experience. Students work with real experiments at a cost of pennies per experiment. By blending inexpensive and safe hands-on experiments with these prerecorded real experiments, our overtaxed science teachers can produce great science classes and have their students leave the class understanding what science is really all about. At the same time, they can demonstrate a cost savings to their department head or principal.
© 2015 by Smart Science Education Inc., U.S.A. www.smartscience.net
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