Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Science Takes Imagination
Scientific method, as usually taught, is a linear process requiring no imagination or creativity. While large parts of science are pursued by simply seeking an empty place and filling it with data, much more is necessary. The "scientific method" turns out to be more about how results are reported than how science is conducted.
Students should develop an appreciation of this aspect of science, a part of the nature of science. Give students advance notice about problems they're to solve. Let them consider how to research the problem. Should they read, talk to others, or collect their own data? Perhaps, they'll do all three.
Whatever you do, make sure that students rely on real data from the real world. They should be encouraged to think for themselves. Rather than telling them their ideas are wrong, ask them how to test them. Provide a little guidance, but don't give them the total answer. Help them interpret their data, but don't interpret it for them.
You'll be developing scientific imagination and creativity, the basis for all of the great advances in science. You'll also be encouraging the love of science and the joy of doing science.
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