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Science requires the acquisition and analysis of empirical (sense-derived) data. Given the same physical objects or phenomena, the sense organs of all people do not respond equally to these stimuli, nor do their minds interpret sensory signals identically. Therefore, teachers should develop lectures on human sensory systems that include some common examples of sensory limitations, variations, deficiencies, malfunctions, and diseases (as discussed herein) because they have important implications for conducting scientific investigations, science education, and introspection that are seldom included in biology textbooks. Students need to be made aware of the human tendency to self deception in order to avoid the cognitive error of confirmation bias.
This article discusses a number of aspects of the nature of science that can be illustrated by considering the development of pangenesis, a principle proposed by Charles Darwin to describe the rules of inheritance, explain the source of new variation, and solve other natural history puzzles. Pangenesis — although false — can be used to illustrate important nature of science ideas such as the need for empitical evidence, the use of inductive reasoning, the creative component of science, the role of bias and subjectivity, social and personal influences on science, and the notion that scientific knowledge is tentative but durable, yet self correcting.
We present a class discussion that took place in the second author's high school biology class. Working from video data that we transcribed, studied, and analyzed closely, we recount how the question “is air matter?” posed at the beginning of a unit on photosynthesis led to student-dtiven inquiry and learning. This case study illustrates what we argue is important in effective science teaching and learning: attending and responding to the substance of student thinking. We use it to articulate two reasons for attentive and responsive teaching: to help students understand science concepts, and to help students learn how to learn.
The way an animal moves from place to place can inform us about its life and environment. In this lesson, students examine the travel patterns of juvenile flatfishes in an estuary. The process of sampling bottom-dwelling fishes is explained, and data from a university-based marine science laboratory are evaluated. Students compare the distance traveled by juvenile fish to human movement by determining their own average step length. Comparing step length to the distance-to-body-length traveled by flatfish enables students to put in perspective the journey taken by the fish.
Global Positioning System (GPS) technology can be used to connect students to the natural world and improve their skills in observation, identification, and classification. Using GPS devices in the classroom increases student interest in science, encourages team-building skills, and improves biology content knowledge. Additionally, it helps educators meet the ISTE's Educational Technology Standards and the National Science Education Standards while increasing the environmental literacy of their students. This paper provides suggestions for utilizing GPS technology in student-led explorations of the local flora, as well as other innovative ideas for using these devices in science instruction.
How can critical and analytical thinking be improved so that they mimic real-life research and prepare students for university courses? The data sets obtained in students' experiments were used to encourage students to evaluate results, experiments, and published information critically. Examples show that students can learn to compare and defend their experimental results, thus bringing them closer to real research and critical-thinking skills.
I describe a design-based learning activity that utilizes the interdisciplinary content domain of biomimicry. Design-based learning requires student creativity and technological innovation to address novel science problems, characteristics of the nature of science not often addressed in schools. Alignment with national standards documents, protocols, and assessment recommendations are provided.
Teaching and learning animal anatomy has a long history in the biology classroom. As in many fields of biology, decades of experience teaching anatomy have led to the unofficial selection of model species. However, in some cases the model may not be the best choice for our students. Our struggle to find an appropriate model for teaching and learning insect anatomy has resulted in experiments with a variety of species. In our experience, none of the available models seems as useful as the Madagascar hissing cockroach. In this article, we advocate the use of this species in laboratory studies of insect anatomy.