Friday, August 31, 2007

Suggestions for science in high school

I recently heard from an old high school buddy with whom I had lost touch for a number of years. She is now an assistant principal at a 6-12 secondary school, and she is currently redesigning their science curriculum. She asked if I had any suggestions, and I told her that I could ask the science blogosphere, and she could stop by the lounge to see what people thought.

Now, I can’t guarantee she’ll actually visit the lounge, much less that she’ll care what any of y’all think. But if any of the scientists who read this e-rag have opinions on secondary school science curricula, feel free to introduce yourself in the comments here and state your opinion. With a little luck, one of the people crafting one such curriculum might possibly take note of what you have to say here.

Otherwise, she’ll have to go with what I told her are the four most important take-home points from the geosciences:

That the Earth is:
-flat
-less than 10 Ka old
-designed by an intelligent creator
and
-warming due to entirely natural causes.

5 comments:

Schlupp said...

Don't try to teach Newtonian mechanics (beyond v=s/t) before calulus. And if you do, just give them the formulas. It is not, I repaet NOT, a good idea to employ these makeshift work-around-calculus geometric 'proves'.

A solid foundation in math would be a good idea anyway.

Aaaaand, a physicist's selection of the Most Important Concepts of Chemistry:
- 'chemical' = 'bad'
- The opposite of 'chemical' is
'natural'.
- 'natural' = 'harmless'

('physical' = 'involving sport', BTW)

tdubose said...

Newtonian physics can be done without calc--you effectively teach them derivatives by hand using real-world data points: if you have points [0,1] [3,4] and [6,10] that mark position, then the speed when the object is at x=3 is approx. 3/2. You can use vectors if you want velocity.

Sara said...

but Newtonian mechanics is bo.ring.
at least give the students a little taste of something cool like quantum mechanics or special relativity. there are lots and lots of simple approaches to learning a few things about these subjects (and they dont require calculus).
i think the whole, calculating the speed of a ball rolling down a hill is a large part of the reason i run into so many people who say "oh i hated physics in high school"

Schlupp said...

tdubose:
Yes, you can do that, and for velocity, it might make sense. But in my school, they went on to use similar tricks to find the derivative of 1/r and such stuff. You CAN do all that, but I don't think it's a good idea. Because it is boring.

Dr. Lemming said...

schlupp:
Is the corellary to your proposition to deny any knowledge of mechanics to the 4/5 of US high school students who never take calculus?