Scientific Literacy

Dr. David A Starrett dstar at BIOLOGY.SEMO.EDU
Wed Feb 3 19:13:36 EST 1999

At 01:35 PM 2/3/1999 -0800, you wrote:
>While judging an elementary science fair recently I mentioned to one of the
>participants (a sixth grader, I would guess from memory) that she actually
>two hypotheses in her project. She almost instantly came to tears. I backed
>off immediately and praised her work in as many ways as I could.
>Later, a colleague explained that the students at elementary schools are
>directed by their teachers to have one and only one hypothesis. To have more
>than one hypothesis per project is regarded as unscientific.

I teach a scientific methods course to our incoming freshmen bio majors.
It is amazing how badly the scientific method is being taught in High
School.  Ask your students how many of them believe science can "prove"
things.  Ask how many realize that hypotheses are just guesses that need to
be substantiated/falsified.  Ask how many realize that a hypothesis
predicts an outcome of an experiment, etc.  Students come out of my classes
angry at their high school teacher/program for teaching them so poorly.

Dave Starrett

*                                                           *
*  Dr. David Starrett                           \           *
*  Biology Department, MS 6200                  /\          *
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