The First Days
Try to open the course with some sort of dramatic "grabber".
This will get their attention, and instantly impress your students
that this is not just another "ho-hum" course. (In
fact, you should try to do SOMETHING off the wall, dramatic,
unusual or unexpected EVERY DAY, so that your students will look
forward to being there, everyday, with great anticipation).
Two different scenarios are suggested here. They have both
been used, with considerable success (as measured by pre/post
testing). You could even try combining elements of both scenarios.
Either one will, in an exciting way, lay the groundwork for introducing
the nature of science.
Scenario A: Illusions
1. Blind Spot
2. Other Illusions in Nature
3. Intentional Illusions
4. "Perception is not always reality". At some point
make it clear that the natural world is full of illusions, and
simple common sense doesn't always work to explain such illusions.
This is where science is especially useful to help us
dig out the real story....the most accurate explanation.
Scenario B: Deep
This dramatic opening emphasizes the idea that we actually
know very little about the universe, compared to what we could
know. There is so-o-o-o much we do not even know we don't know!
That's "DEEP IGNORANCE". And science seems to be the
most effective tool we have for trying to understand at least
some of that vast unknown universe. This approach is especially
nice if you want to encourage your students to consider science
as a possible career. Many students may think that just about
everything to discover MUST have already been discovered. In
spite of all of the amazing discoveries of the past, each new
discovery opens many new doors... there is still so much to be
learned... and there always WILL be!
RESOURCE: A very interesting book, just out (1999), by Ken
Miller, is "Finding Darwin's God" (see "What's New", go to "Book News").
The author touches on how what we are calling "Deep Ignorance"
may actually be built into the universe, a product of quantum
theory. In addition, Miller does an excellent job of correcting
the widespread popuar misunderstanding of evolution and the many
arguments put forth against it, including the current effort
to bring in "intelligent-design theory". The evidence
and the reasoning behind the age of the earth, radiometric dating,
and speciation are presented clearly and succinctly, begging
for someone to put the material into neat interactive teaching
lessons. That's YOUR CHALLENGE. If you do it, please share
them with us here at ENSI, so we can share them with the world
of biology teachers.