Science education

12/11/2018

We explored the potential of science to facilitate social inclusion with teenagers who had interrupted their studies before the terms set for compulsory education. The project was carried out from 2014 to 2018 within SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies), a scientific and higher education institution in physics, mathematics and neurosciences, and was focused on the production of video games using Scratch. The outcomes are encouraging: through active engagement, the participants have succeeded in completing complex projects, taking responsibilities and interacting with people outside their usual entourage, within a background in which they have been valued and respected.

16/10/2018

According to the Gateway Belief Model, scientists and science educators should stress the scientific consensus when engaging with the lay population across a wide variety of mediums, including debates. The purpose of this study, then, was to determine if engaging in such debates does more harm than good in terms of persuading individuals towards accepting the scientific consensus of controversial issues. Participants (N = 208) read a manipulated debate segment altered by the issue discussed as well as the position/title of the skeptic debater. Results indicate that it is possible to influence individuals exposed to these debate segments, but the effects are issue-contingent. Limitations and future research related to science education are discussed.

22/05/2018

The aim of this paper is to analyze the impact of Comics & Science workshops where forty-one teenagers (designated Trainee Science Comic Authors [TSCAs]) are asked to create a one-page comic strip based on a scientific presentation given by a PhD student. Instrumental genesis is chosen as the conceptual framework to characterize the interplay between the specific characteristics of a comic and the pieces of scientific knowledge to be translated. Six workshops were conducted and analyzed. The results show that the TSCAs followed the codes that are specific to the comic strip medium and took some distance with the science integrity. Nevertheless being involved in the creative process allowed them to understand the reasons for certain choices of science illustration or storytelling. This approach can foster the emergence of a critical mind with respect to reading science stories created in other contexts.

07/05/2018

This meta-article aims to explore the role of uncertainty in knowing in informal science learning contexts. Subjects (N=2591) were sixth-graders from four countries. In addition to the correct and incorrect questionnaire alternatives, there was a "don't know" option to choose if uncertain of the answer. The unique path-analysis finding showed that the role of motivation was uniformly positive on correct and negative on uncertainty of answers. In all contexts the number of correct answers increased, incorrect and uncertain answers decreased. Interestingly, although there was no more difference in knowledge pro boys after the intervention, the girls were still more uncertain.

20/07/2017

In the last decades of the 19th century education played a major role in Mexican society, when efforts were being made to restructure it based on the objective teaching of sciences, which was regarded as the driving force behind the change needed in various sectors such as industry and public health. In this context, the so-called science disseminators aimed to communicate their knowledge to the general public, mainly to the working classes and the children. Journalism grew and reached a wide range of themes and audiences. They believed in the idea of a science for all and that sciences were an instrument to know the new nations and educate the population. It is worth mentioning La ciencia recreativa, a publication dedicated to children and working classes. Between 1871 and 1879 it was edited by the topographical engineer and surveyor José Joaquín Arriaga (1831–1896), who aimed to generalise the scientific knowledge of cosmography, mineralogy, meteorology, physics, botany, zoology, descriptive geography and industrial agriculture.

13/03/2017

van den Sanden and Vries curate reflections and insights about the shared goals, practices and processes which bring together academics and practitioners in science education and communication. The book spotlights areas of productive overlap but is just the beginning for meaningful collaboration.

11/01/2017

This paper provides an analysis of the implementation and the outcomes of Scienza Attiva, an Italian national project for secondary school students, that makes use of deliberative democracy tools to address socio-scientific issues of great impact. The analysis has required a mixed method including surveys of students' pre- and post-project opinions, focus groups and interviews with students and teachers. The results from this evaluation study provide evidence that the project improves students' understanding of socio-scientific issues, strengthens their awareness of the importance of discussion and positively influences interactions in the classroom.

21/01/2016

Whereas the evolution of snow cover across forested mountain watersheds is difficult to predict or model accurately, the presence or absence of snow cover is easily observable and these observations contribute to improved snow models. We engaged citizen scientists to collect observations of the timing of distributed snow disappearance over three snow seasons across the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A. . The primary goal of the project was to build a more spatially robust dataset documenting the influence of forest cover on the timing of snow disappearance, and public outreach was a secondary goal. Each year's effort utilized a different strategy, building on the lessons of the previous year. We began by soliciting our professional networks to contribute observations via electronic or paper forms, moved to a public outreach effort to collect geotagged photographs, and finally settled on close collaboration with an outdoor science school that was well-positioned to collect the needed data. Whereas the outreach efforts garnered abundant enthusiasm and publicity, the resulting datasets were sparse. In contrast, direct collaboration with an outdoor science school that was already sending students to make weekly snow observations proved fruitful in both data collection and educational outreach. From a data collection standpoint, the shift to an educational collaboration was successful because it essentially traded wide spatial coverage combined with sparse temporal coverage for dense temporal coverage at a single, but important location. From a public engagement standpoint, the partnership allowed for more intensive participation by more people and enhanced the science curriculum at the collaborating school.

21/01/2016

Success stories of citizen science projects widely demonstrate the value of this open science paradigm and encourage organizations to shift towards new ways of doing research. While benefits for researchers are clear, outcomes for individuals participating in these projects are not easy to assess. The wide spectrum of volunteers collaborating in citizen science projects greatly contributes to the difficulty in the evaluation of the projects' outcomes. Given the strong links between many citizen science projects and education, in this work we present an experience with hundreds of students (aged 15–18) of two different countries who participate in a project on cell biology research — Cell Spotting — as part of their regular classroom activities. Apart from introducing the project and resources involved, we aim to provide an overview of the benefits of integrating citizen science in the context of formal science education and of what teachers and students may obtain from it. In this case, besides helping students to consolidate and apply theoretical concepts included in the school curriculum, some other types of informal learning have also been observed such as the feeling of playing a key role, which contributed to an increase of students' motivation.

21/01/2016

Citizen science has proven useful in advancing scientific research, but participant learning outcomes are not often assessed. This case study describes the implementation and tailoring of an in-depth assessment of the educational impact of two citizen science projects in an undergraduate, general education course. Mixed-methods assessment of citizen science within a college classroom demonstrates that public participation in scientific research can positively alter attitudes towards science. The timing and type of assessments yielded significantly different results and qualitative assessment provided depth and context. However, disentangling the impact of the course from participation in the projects is the biggest challenge.

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