Science Fair: How do we know?

Non-scientists have a very funny idea of what goes on in science. Looking at headlines in newspapers, you would get the impression that the great and the wise stroke their beards and lo! new scientific understanding.

To help my students understand the varying scientific methods, I had my students look up some science news and explain it to the class. We got a good spread of biology, some astronomy, some climate science, not much chemistry and a little physics. Then I asked them HOW scientists knew. And HOW they had done the experiment.

Some interesting discussions came up and from them, my class were able to suggest a basic scientific method (and also how it might vary for different disciplines).

Then they were allowed to look up projects, with the proviso that they find a hypothesis to test. With my older students, I introduced Popper to them and watched their minds blow. (I love that moment)

“So, you can NEVER prove anything right?!”

My younger students were bursting to do baking soda volcanoes. I am so sick of baking soda volcanoes. It’s a waste of vinegar and no one learns anything about either neutralisation or plate tectonics. I banned them. But I am not really an evil person by nature, so I ran a special practical lesson where they could get them out of their system (and learn about neutralisation while they were there)

Funnily enough, even though my older students were interested in doing chemistry experiments, they have all settled on behavioural science and biology. One student is doing a research project into secondary cancer, she might even have a really good idea so it is exciting to support her explore it.

My younger students are running experiments across all of science.

So far, so good. They are planning really well and working together. I feel a bit redundant in lessons, really.


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