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School Science Review number 367

Number 367 - December 2017

Contents Article
2 Contents and Editorial

Editor: Geoff Auty

7 You must be a member to download this article Letter to the Editor

Marten Ten Hoor

9 You must be a member to download this article Science Notes

- Shoots and roots

12 You must be a member to download this article Science Notes

- Distance–time–speed analysis and too many variables!

16 Theme editorial: epistemic insight and the power and limitations of science in multidisciplinary areas

Berry Billingsley and Mark Hardman

The June 2017 special issue of School Science Review focused on epistemic insight. Epistemic insight in its broadest sense refers to having the attitudes and understandings that are associated with thinking and working like a scholar. Someone with epistemic insight has a deep understanding of how knowledge works. In the months since, a widening cohort of researchers, practitioners and policy makers have begun to discuss the importance of epistemic insight as a dimension of students’ intellectual development.

19 You must be a member to download this article Breaking the cycle: interrupting the perpetuation of erroneous ideas about the nature of science in the educational system

Keith Chappell

In the context of what are often highly compartmentalised curriculum requirements, this article considers the cyclical nature of the acquisition and transfer of knowledge in the education system in relation to those questions that transcend individual subjects as set out in traditional curriculum divisions. It also considers the detrimental consequences of this across the curriculum for all subjects and seeks to identify ‘pinch points’ at which interventions might most effectively be introduced to break the cycle of knowledge compartmentalisation, and allow those questions that do not sit simply within a single subject to be handled in a meaningful way. Particular examples from the teaching of genetics are used to illustrate the broader issue that affects science education across all fields. Finally, in seeking to break this cycle of perpetuated errors there are opportunities to offer new modes of thinking about the relationship of science with other ways of thinking that move beyond the simplistic notions of conflict embedded in many discussions, such as those relating to science and religion.

26 You must be a member to download this article Entrenched compartmentalisation and students' abilities and levels of interest in science

Berry Billingsley, Mehdi Nassaji and Manzoorul Abedin

This article explores the notion that asking and exploring so called ‘big questions’ could potentially increase the diversity and number of students who aspire to work in science and science related careers. The focus is the premise that girls are more interested than boys in the relationships between science and other disciplines. The article also examines the view that the practice of entrenched compartmentalisation is squeezing students’ curiosity and channelling their thinking away from creative activities such as identifying good questions to ask and devising ways to address them. Based on their findings, the authors suggest that entrenched compartmentalisation could be a barrier in schools to students’ intellectual progression and to students’, particularly girls’, interest in science.

32 Dual reality

Matt Pritchard

Magicians and scientists have a curious relationship, with both conflicting views and common ground. Magicians use natural means to construct supernatural illusions. They exploit surprise and misdirected focus in their tricks. Scientists like to deconstruct and explain marvels. They methodically measure, evaluate and repeat observations. However, at the core of both is a shared sense of wonder and the drive to share that with their audiences.

34 You must be a member to download this article How scientific is that? A practical guide to discuss the power and limitations of science in secondary schools

Martin Coath

This article describes a workshop designed to help students to ascertain the relative difficulty and amenability to scientific investigation of various questions. Group discussions are used to illustrate that some questions do not have a right answer, which is not a normal expectation in science lessons.

38 You must be a member to download this article The mystery tubes: teaching pupils about hypothetical modelling

Carole Kenrick

This article recounts the author’s working experience of one method by which pupils’ understanding of the epistemologies of science can be developed, specifically how scientists can develop hypothetical models and test them through simulations. She currently uses this approach for transition lessons with pupils in upper primary or lower secondary school (ages 7–14), but has also used it in the past with pupils aged up to 18 years.

44 You must be a member to download this article Epistemic insight and Classrooms with Permeable Walls

Berry Billingsley and Andrea Ramos Arias

The boundaries between subject disciplines in secondary education today make it difficult for students to see their subjects in context. However, examining the secondary curriculum in England shows that there are a wealth of opportunities for making links and helping to develop students’ epistemic insight and scholarly thought. This article provides concrete examples of these opportunities and offers a view into ongoing research by the LASAR Centre at Canterbury Christ Church University (UK), which supports teachers in bridging subject boundaries through a strategy called Classrooms with Permeable Walls.

54 You must be a member to download this article Things you should not believe in science

Keith S. Taber

This article considers the relationship between belief and learning science. It is argued that belief in science (as a process) needs to be distinguished from belief in particular scientific ideas and knowledge claims. Scientific knowledge is theoretical and provisional – something to be adopted for its utility, not as articles of faith. The scientific attitude is to always be sceptical and retain a critical attitude to what we think we know. Belief in scientific knowledge is not only inappropriate in terms of scientific values, but can also be unhelpful from an educational perspective. The science teacher should actually encourage students not to believe in the various theories, models and other products of scientific work presented in class. This approach can avoid conflicts with students’ personal beliefs, support scientific literacy, and better prepare future scientists.

61 You must be a member to download this article Evolution, insight and truth?

Emma Newall

Evolution has been positioned at the centre of conflict between scientific and religious explanations of the workings of the world. However, little research has examined other possible reasons for some people rejecting scientific explanations. The author’s research indicates that for some people, irrespective of faith, the ideas associated with evolution can be potentially disturbing: ideas about change, uncertainty, absence of purpose, extinction and struggle, as well as identity. The affective dimension of teaching and learning about evolution needs to be taken into account and our classrooms should provide safe places for our students to discuss the personal implications of science.

67 You must be a member to download this article Epistemic insight: teaching about science and RE in secondary schools

Tamjid Mujtaba, Michael J. Reiss and Alexis Stones

This article reports on a teaching intervention for year 9 or 10 students (age 13–15) in secondary school biology and religious education (RE) lessons that was partly intended to deepen students’ reflections, empathy and literacy when considering the similarities, differences and relationships between religion and science. The intervention proved to be generally successful in meeting its aims for the students and also led to a number of the participating teachers changing their views in ways that were more positive about the worth of examining such issues in the classroom.

77 You must be a member to download this article The lanthanides: the forgotten elements but an excellent teaching resource

Christopher Talbot

This article aims to introduce the lanthanides (also known as the lanthanoids) to teachers and their students. The lanthanides are not mere ‘footnotes’ at the bottom of the periodic table but make up a group of interesting and unique metallic elements. They and their compounds have widespread technological applications that have become increasingly important in our everyday lives, such as permanent magnets (in small electronic devices), superconductors, fibre optic amplifiers and MRI contrast agents.

87 You must be a member to download this article Exploring the public's sensory genotypes and phenotypes through innovative practice

Tony Milanowski

The genetic diversity contained in a population can be used to engage the audience in an understanding of human genotypes and phenotypes. With a series of simple examples of welldocumented sensory phenotypes related to the perception of colour, aromas or food preference, the diversity of the audience can be easily explored. The collecting of sensory phenotypes can be done using online polling and the results can be fed back to the audience. This allows the audience to recognise their specific genetic place in the broader population, which personalises learning and aids in the comprehension of the subject.

93 You must be a member to download this article Using educational neuroscience and psychology to teach science. Part 1.

Rebecca Torrance Jenkins

This article is the first of a two-part series that explores science teachers’ and their pupils’ experiences of using different pedagogical approaches based on understandings of how brains learn. For this case-study research, nine science teachers were interviewed and four teachers self-selected to trial a pedagogical approach, new to them, from cognitive psychology and educational neuroscience, using an action research framework for between one and two academic years. Both teachers’ and their pupils’ experiences of using the approach were explored, and data were collected via observations, interviews with teachers and focus-group interviews/ written questionnaires with pupils. As in case study research, each case was examined in depth, and consequently findings are not necessarily generalisable to other cases. However, it would be valuable if other teacher-researchers tried and evaluated some of these approaches, particularly those from educational neuroscience, where recommendations are based on relatively recent research findings. Part 1 will focus on two approaches rooted in cognitive psychology: Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) and Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education (CASE); part 2 will focus on approaches from educational neuroscience: The Brain-Targeted Teaching Model (Hardiman, 2012) and Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning (Willis, 2006).

105 What if English is not my students' mother tongue?

Keith Ross and Alison Gardenier

Teaching science in an English-medium school where your students have a different mother tongue brings various issues to light. Our ultimate goal in teaching science is to help students understand the big ideas; however, poor language skills may make this hard and can lead to a heavy emphasis on ‘passing the exam at all costs’ using rote learning. This article covers ways in which students with English as an additional language can access and make sense of scientific information and ideas, in both spoken and written formats. We aim to provide students with a safe environment to practise formulating ideas no matter where their difficulties lie, be it a lack of vocabulary, a lack of background understanding or culturally different styles of learning.

111 You must be a member to download this article Formulae as scientific stories

Ian Horsewell

In science lessons many students struggle to apply the principles of rearranging formulae, even after coverage in maths. A structured approach is suggested that focuses on describing a narrative linking cause and effect before explicit mathematical terms are introduced.

115 How science fairs foster inquiry skills and enrich learning

Jürgen Paul and Jorge Groß

Science competitions have continuing relevance for schools. The aim of the German youth science fair Jugend forscht is to encourage scientific thinking and inquiry methods such as experimentation. Three concrete examples of participating projects are given. We summarise the current state of research related to science competitions, including our nationwide study that analysed learning processes initiated by a youth science fair. In this context, we point out some of the core elements relevant to science education. Finally, we provide a list of suggestions to make best use of learning opportunities and for implementation at school.

123 Reviews

123 How to Code a Human: Exploring the DNA Blueprints that Make Us Who We Are
124 30-Second Genetics
124 Solitary Bees
125 30-Second Physics
126 The Periodic Table: A Visual Guide to the Elements
127 The Weathermen: Their Story
127 Teaching and Learning about Climate Change
128 Big Data, Small Devices: Investigating the Natural World Using Real-Time Data
129 Stargazers’ Almanac 2018: A Monthly Guide to the Stars and Planets
129 Amazing Science Jobs
130 The Super-Intelligent High-Tech Robot Book

Science App reviews

133 Science Websearch
136 SSR special issues and advertisers index