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The view from Carleton College's physics department

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Notes of a young science student

Posted by Melissa on February 25, 2011

I am sometimes asked if I always liked science as I was growing up. The short answer is no. It wasn’t until I took physics in high school that I fell in love with science and considered a science-related career path. My mother recently unearthed a notebook from when I was 10 years old; written on the first page of the notebook is the title, “My journal of science ideas.” I think this must have been part of a school project, although I have no recollection of it. The journal contains more than 120 brief entries that I wrote over the course of 4 months. About 20 of the entries posed questions that I researched and wrote about in subsequent journal entries. Here’s an example:

Aside from the question/answer entries, most other entries are interesting facts that I learned, although a few entries record observations I made.  Breaking down the entries by topic, animals were the subject of 35 entries, insects and mold each had 11 entries, five entries are astronomical in nature, and five could be classified as physics.

The notebook provides a revealing peek into my view of science at the age of 10. Over half of the entries in this “journal of science ideas” simply recount trivia, and although I asked questions in some of the journal entries, they were often questions with answers that I could find in a book. Experimentation and hands-on engagement are notably absent, except for one entry where I describe a demonstration that I did for my class.

Earlier this month, a friend posted a link to an article at the Hechinger Report on the state of US science education. The article notes that the US approach to science education is “a mile wide and an inch deep” and that the content sequence does not build as logically as it does in other countries. My science journal certainly displays breadth without depth, and science comes across as information to be learned rather than puzzles to be solved. No wonder I wasn’t always fond of science as a kid!

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2 Responses to “Notes of a young science student”

  1. […] post: Notes of a young science student « Confused at a higher level (function() {var s = document.createElement('SCRIPT'), s1 = […]

  2. […] Notes of a young science student – “although I asked questions in some of the journal entries, they were often questions with answers that I could find in a book. Experimentation and hands-on engagement are notably absent, except for one entry where I describe a demonstration that I did for my class.” […]

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