Teacher Workshop

The Nature of Science  

"Is conflict between science and religion necessary?" "Is parapsychology science?" "Is there such a thing as a scientific fact?" "What are the limitations of science?" "Should terms such as truth and prove be removed from scientific vocabulary?"

Relax and enjoy the company of colleagues as you explore, in a hands-on manner, a number of science activities relevant to learning about the nature of science (NOS). This workshop will contribute to meeting the demonstrated need for strengthening the understanding of primary and secondary educators about the nature of science (Benson, 1989; Koulaidis & Ogborn, 1995; Mellado, 1997), while providing participants with a wealth of associated classroom resources. Education reform documents are increasingly emphasising the centrality of NOS to scientific literacy, but textbooks are unfortunately faring poorly in their representations of NOS (e.g., Abd-El-Khalick, Waters, & Le, 2008).

Topics include science as one way of knowing; different ways of knowing; distinguishing and nondistinguishing features of the NOS; observations and inferences; clarification of terms that include empirical, a scientific fact, law, theory, and model; historical and experimental science; distinguishing between a prediction and a hypothesis; case studies, stories, and controversies; some myths associated with NOS; the ways scientists work, including the Activity Model for Scientific Enquiry; testing hypotheses; the unnecessary conflict between science and religion; cooperative learning, and a great strategy for introducing it; pseudoscientific claims and sceptical science (telepathy, a survey, horoscopes, testing claims); and decision-making on socio-scientific/controversial issues.

Presenter:  Dr Peter H. Eastwell  PhD (Education), BSc (Honours, Phys.Chem.), DipEd, MRACI, MACE, C. Chem

References

Abd-El-Khalick, F., Waters, M., & Le, A-P. (2008). Representations of nature of science in high school chemistry textbooks over the past four decades. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45, 835-855.

Benson, G. D. (1989). The misrepresentation of science by philosophers and teachers of science. Synthese, 80, 107-119.

Koulaidis, V., & Ogborn, J. (1995). Science teachers' philosophical assumptions: How well do we understand? International Journal of Science Education, 17, 273-283.

Mellado, V. (1997). Preservice teachers' classroom practice and their conceptions of the nature of science. Science and Education, 6, 331-354.

Feedback From Participants
  • "Excellent presentation . . . interesting activities . . . high audience participation . . . very informative/inspiring . . . some great ideas for investigating the nature of science . . . excellent reflection on scientific terminology that is commonly used but obviously not well understood . . . clarified many concepts about Science for me . . . use of a range of thinking skills within the presentation to model use to participants . . . cooperative learning made it more memorable . . . hands-on learning that we can take back to school . . . thanks very much--very enjoyable . . . comprehensive focus on aspects of Science . . . time for reflection and questioniong."  Mackay District Teachers
  • "Good variety of activities, having the notes prior to the workshop (pre-reading) made it easy to follow aspects of the workshop, the easily-applied practical ideas were greatly appreciated . . . interesting, thought-provoking, small numbers worked well . . .great opportunity for discussion with peers, very clear explanation of scientific terminology, clear progression through the nature of science . . . I enjoyed the workshop very much, very helpful, we're looking at introducing a Nature of Science unit next year, discussed lots of useful ideas, found the glossary great, and particulary the distinction between a hypothesis and a prediction." Participants, Brisbane
  • "Activities were useful. It's good to see someone who practices what he preaches. Strengths: discussion generated, analysis of activities, and notes provided."  Katie Ellard, Springwood State High School, Brisbane
  • "Hands-on activities were conducted like we would in class, so we got an idea of strengths and weaknesses. A variety of topics were covered, and opportunuities were provided to reflect and discuss with other teachers."  Kym Penman, Kingston College, Brisbane
  • "Well presented, good visual resources, involved all participants."  Col Perren, Park Ridge State High School, Brisbane
  • "Activities were visual, hands-on, and therefore motivating . . . pertained to real-life experiences . . . interactive--everyone joined in . . . loved the demonstrations . . . practical--would be able to implement these in the classroom."  Teachers, Biloela District
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