Sunday, February 19, 2012
I've been thinking a lot about stories recently and how they apply to science education. My feeling is that a lot of science learning at the upper middle school and high school levels focus heavily on memorization of facts. There's always exceptions to these kind of generalizations but I also have the feeling that if we utilize the power of good story telling we may be giving our students more. A compelling story has an intrinsic way of getting into our brains and sticking there. I can't stop thinking about that research I wrote about showing how bacteria could become organelles in an amoeba in only six weeks. There are pretty meaty science facts set in that story but the fact that I first heard it as a story and then told it again as a story changes the learning that's going on. If I had read a journal article describing the outcomes of the research and posted something that just had the facts it would be a very different experience both for me and for those reading the blog. And as a science educator, remember that every piece of knowledge has a story behind it. There is a researcher or explorer that really lived or still lives who found something out about the world, often in surprising or fascinating ways. I think it's important to tell these stories rather than just explain the theories and facts that came out of them. Tell the story of Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, the story of Newton locking himself in his room and writing the Principia, or the story of Arcimedes. These were real people and their stories have a lot to teach about science and humanity.