Friday, November 19, 2010

Science and Design Technology

We started the science and design technology part of my math/science course yesterday. I always start this part of the course with several activities that focus on the "how" of science education rather than the "what". The "how" of science brings a focus to what we call the science process skills; skills such as careful observation, clear communication, making inferences and testing hypotheses.

The first activity was a science activity in which we explored the properties and characteristics of drops of water. Everyone is familiar with drops of water but not with what you can do with them or how you can study them. We used droppers to see how many drops would fit on a penny or how drops moved on a piece of wax paper. This is a great topic to do with young children but it's important for the pre-service teachers to get a sense of just how much you can do with a simple topic if you apply your minds as well as your hands.

The second activity had two parts and was designed to take the students from pure science to the field of design technology. One can differentiate between the two by the type of questions one asks. In science, the questions arise from the natural world: how does magnetism work? How do plants grow? What cases rain to fall? In design technology the questions come from how we use our scientific knowledge to solve everyday problems or create things to make our lives better.

The activity asked students to find out which of three variables affects the time of the sewing of a pendulum; its length, the weight, or where the release point is. That's what Maegan is testing in the picture. Once the students had established which it was the next task, a design technology activity, was to make a pendulum that would keep time by swinging once every second. In order to do this they had to use the scientific knowledge they had developed in the first part of the activity.

No comments:

Post a Comment