Northeastern Section - 54th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 6-1
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


MILLETTE, Patricia M., Science, Mt. Blue High School, 129 Seamon Rd., Farmington, ME 04938

Current cultural and societal behaviors make it especially important for students to understand that science is not conducted in a cultural vacuum, and that human bias can affect the advancement of critical issues in science. The ability for students to to understand this is described by Lederman et al.(2002), as a critical component of the nature of science (NOS). This activity uses the examples of Alfred Wegener (who published the modern theory of continental drift) and Marie Tharp (who discovered the central rift in the Mid Atlantic Ridge) to show scientists as real-life individuals, and the cultural bias that affected the advancement and acceptance of their theories.

Using a set of guiding questions, students are asked to discover aspects of the scientist’s personal and professional story, and then present it from the viewpoint of that scientist in one of a variety of styles, such as diary entries, letters to a family member, or a TV interview for example. In addition to showing a personal perspective on discovery, student presentations must take into account the societal biases that affected the advancement and final acceptance of the scientist’s discoveries. This activity also illustrates the additional ideas that scientists often use creativity and imagination in their work, and that theories change over time, both critical components of NOS (Lederman et al., 2002).