Thursday, October 24, 2013

Science -v- the scientific method

In the past 24 hours I've had two instances where I've had to think about the scientific method.  First of all, earlier today in the #pypchat, Edna Sackson (@whatedsaid) made the statement "Real life isn't neat and tidy" and we were discussing inquiry - and this immediately took me back to something I read yesterday by Gary Stager about the way science is taught in schools - with facts and procedures - known as the scientific method, which basically involves observing something, constructing a hypothesis, making predictions, testing through experimentation, analyzing the results and then deciding if the hypothesis is correct.  However what Gary points out in his book Invent to Learn is that this is not science:
Science is about wonder and risk and imagination .... tinkering is closer to the way real scientists, mathematicians and engineers solve problems .... they follow hunches, iterate, make mistakes, re-think, start over, argue, collaborate.
 Even more interesting to me was Gary's statement "the scientific method is not applicable to things that don't yet exist".  He talks about how the world is full of seemingly unexplainable things that push the boundaries of imagination, yet some child living today will figure out the answer.  Maybe that child is in YOUR class - how can we foster his or her imagination and creativity in order to tackle the unexplainable?

Photo Credit: W3155Y via Compfight cc

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