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Science Teaching. What's wrong with it?


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#1 Michaelangelica

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 05:22 AM

A press release

Mobile phone risks clouded in science



People are confused and apathetic about mobile phone radiation, and the situation can be partly traced back to science classrooms, says Clare Christensen, a recent PhD graduate from Queensland University of Technology.


"Science is supposed to be about certainty - at least that's what they tell us in school - but people are seeing media reports with scientists disagreeing over things such as the possible health risks with mobile phones,'' Dr Christensen said.

"There is a cynicism that develops when people see scientists as having different 'opinions', but of course it's not about opinion. Scientists are always disagreeing - always have and probably always will."

Dr Christensen talked with people aged 18 to 26 about their mobile phones and how they saw the possible risks in the light of contradictory news reports.

In focus group discussions, they initially talked about how useful mobile phones were but this changed when they were shown a media report on two Australian studies.

The first found double the rate of cancer in mice exposed to mobile phone radiation and the second found no change in cancer rates among exposed mice.

"Social networking and peer pressure issues outweighed health issues because the scientific evidence is seen as contradictory and uncertain," Dr Christensen said.

"The news media are not giving us very much information on how the research is set up and why the findings from one study differ markedly from another.

"At the same time, it seems people aren't in a hurry to find out for themselves. They could do an internet search to gather information, but they simply don't. The search would not yield a definitive answer but they would at least be more aware of the risks."

Dr Christensen said a greater emphasis on discussion and realistic inquiry work in schools would likely lead to a genuine interest in the science of issues such as mobile phone radiation, global warming, cloning, medical procedures and genetically modified foods.


"Very few people I spoke to had discussed contemporary issues of science in the classroom,'' she said.

"The trouble is, we're not conditioned to discuss science at school.
It's an authoritarian model with this over-riding preoccupation with getting the right answers."


Media contact
- Sandra Hutchinson, QUT media officer
QUT | News

My kids' senior science book was a disgrace. It stared by looking at scientific method in all its boring detail. They were both put off science from day one.

I started my love of science by blowing up things and my teacher crushing a tin can right in front of me! Wow! How did he do that with a Bunsen burner and a bit of water?!

Star wars exhibit has come to Sydney Power House Museum of technology.
Wow! off to see that next week!-MA



#2 Theory5

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 11:23 AM

"Science is supposed to be about certainty - at least that's what they tell us in school - but people are seeing media reports with scientists disagreeing over things such as the possible health risks with mobile phones,'' Dr Christensen said.

"There is a cynicism that develops when people see scientists as having different 'opinions', but of course it's not about opinion. Scientists are always disagreeing - always have and probably always will."


The problem with scientists diagreeing is that they are always labeled as scientists and not nuroscientist or biologist, or titles like that. Yes I can get a bunch on scientists together and ask them about radiation, but it depends on which type of scientists I have. I mean everyone who has a doctor title isnt a medical doctor you can get a doctorate in most fields. Plus with something like cellular radiation you can't just bring one type of scientist in and ask his opinion. You need someone who is familiar with biology, specifically the head. You need someone who knows electronics and radiation. Then they might give you a better answer.
Celluar radiation isn't enough to harm you at all unless you tape a phone to your head and wear it 24/7 for a few years, while talking to people on it continuously without a break. Then you might notice some changes. The mass media directs us away from real issues and presents us with this crap to keep us from learning. There are tons of issues happening around the world and the media publishes non of them.
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#3 pamela

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 11:49 AM

posted by theory
Celluar radiation isn't enough to harm you at all unless you tape a phone to your head and wear it 24/7 for a few years, while talking to people on it continuously without a break. Then you might notice some changes.

there might be some effects that are occuring without the symptoms, only testing over time will give us the answers.Opinions do not dictate, but facts and results give us the information needed. Here is a couple of links you may be interested in

From Sarsheild
What many cell phone users may not know is that cell phones send electromagnetic waves into users' brains. In fact, every cell phone model sold in the United States has a specific measurement of how much microwave energy from the phone can penetrate the brain. Depending on how close the cell phone antenna is to the head, as much as 60 percent of the microwave radiation is absorbed by and actually penetrates the area around the head, some reaching an inch to an inch-and-a-half into the brain.

To see the radiation emitted by your phone see our Cell phone radiation chart

"This is the first generation that has put relatively high-powered transmitters against the head, day after day," says Dr. Ross Adey, who has worked for industry and government for decades studying microwave radiation, and is one of the most respected scientists in the field. Tests conducted by the ABC show 20/20 have found that some of the country's most popular cell phones can - depending on how they're held - exceed the radiation limit. 20/20 reported that government-testing guidelines are so vague that a phone can pass the Federal Communications Commission's requirements when tested in one position and exceed those maximum levels when held in another position.

Experts say it's particularly hard to predict the long-term impact of a product that's just two decades old, especially since most of the 95 million Americans who now have cell phones began using them in the past five years.

Cell Phone Radiation and Mobile Phone Safety - SAR Shield

Cell phone radiation chart - CNET Reviews

from wiki
Mobile phone radiation and health concerns have been raised, especially following the enormous increase in the use of wireless mobile telephony throughout the world (as of August 2005[update], there were more than 2 billion users worldwide). Mobile phones use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range, and somebelieve this may be harmful to human health. These concerns have induced a large body of research (both epidemiological and experimental, in non-human animals and in humans). Concerns about effects on health have also been raised regarding other digital wireless systems, such as data communication networks.

The World Health Organization, based upon the consensus view of the scientific and medical communities, states that health effects (e.g. headaches) are very unlikely to be caused by cellular phones or their base stations, and expects to make recommendations about mobile phones in October 2009.

However, some national radiation advisory authorities, including those of Austria, France, Germany, and Sweden recommended to their citizens measures to minimize exposure. Examples of the recommendations are:

Use hands-free to decrease the radiation to the head.
Keep the mobile phone away from the body.
Do not telephone in a car without an external antenna.


Mobile phone radiation and health - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

#4 Michaelangelica

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 05:34 PM

There are tons of issues happening around the world and the media publishes non of them.

I don't think that is an excuse any more.
Although most magazines seem to be written for 8 YOs with a film/rock star obsession.
With the web you can choose what you want to read and the newsletters and alerts you want to get.

#5 Michaelangelica

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 05:12 PM

Here is a great site
One many here could start at Hypography, except it looks like they are already doing a good job
What do you think?
"Science Myths" in K-6 Textbooks and Popular culture
"Electricity" Misconceptions Spread By Textbooks

#6 Theory5

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:12 AM

I don't think that is an excuse any more.
Although most magazines seem to be written for 8 YOs with a film/rock star obsession.
With the web you can choose what you want to read and the newsletters and alerts you want to get.

Most newspapers and magazines that are written by "news" companies write them so that someone with only an 8th grade education can read them. Therby targeting the lowest common denominator.

What I think I meant was that the media finds stories that will cause enough of an uproar to get them better ratings. They find hot button issues and explain them in such a one sided, simplistic, way without too much information. I belive it is called a "soundbyte".
Everyone uses cellphones and most people know practically nothing about radiation except that it can kill you or cause cancer. They do not, however, know how or why or in what dose. Which makes it a good topic to scare the masses enough to want to know more, but not much more.
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#7 lawcat

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 02:18 AM

Science and knowledge requires expension of labor; and labor requires compensation. We will learn when it is necessary and cheap.

#8 stereologist

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 08:10 PM

Difficult problems such as determining the effects of EM on biological tissue require lots of work as lawcat points out. On the other hand Theory 5 points out that news organizations will find someone suing because they have a cancer shaped like a cellphone and write this up as if this is significant. As Michaelangelica points out it is possible to find good information, but it takes effort.

Look at claims. How many people are in the study? Case studies of 1 patient, ie the guy with the cellphone shaped tumor are worthless. The study with 5 is not interesting. Get a few hundred talkaholics in a study and now there is some merit in reading about the work.

#9 Kriminal99

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 06:21 AM

"The trouble is, we're not conditioned to discuss science at school.
It's an authoritarian model with this over-riding preoccupation with getting the right answers."

Bingo

I think it starts with teachers never being accountable to anyone. Our model does not favor truth. As turtle said in another thread, if you are right about something and the teacher is wrong, the system makes it difficult (not impossible, but beyond what most people will do) to do anything about it.

The result is that the truth is deferred to social structure. If the social structure is uncertain, people simply withhold judgment.

#10 Michaelangelica

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 05:45 PM

I think it starts with teachers never being accountable to anyone. Our model does not favor truth. As turtle said in another thread, if you are right about something and the teacher is wrong, the system makes it difficult (not impossible, but beyond what most people will do) to do anything about it. .

That is just crook teaching.
Education is to "lead out" the talents within, not to impose some authoritarian view.

Society does impose it's world view even in Science, sometimes this is resistance to change, or protecting my patch or ego; at other times it is pathological.

Not quite appropriate, but close, any excuse for a XML comic::hyper:
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#11 lemit

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Posted 05 July 2009 - 09:00 PM

As I was growing up on the family farm in Missouri, there were all kinds of things to explore and learn from. I very early on started telling people that when I grew up I was going to be a scientist.

Then I got into science classes in school. That did it for me. I discovered that in English classes I could use at least a little creativity. I never looked back, until now, no matter how much things I encountered--Berton Roueche's "Medical Detective" series in The New Yorker, work requirements that I learn various ANSI standards to be able to preserve history, and a fight against a sick building that I ultimately lost--demonstrated that the science I was so interested in as a kid is the same science I'm still interested in as a retiree. That the loop is only now closing is a profound testament to the failure of my science education.

Of course, I have kind of liked the results from my education in language, writing, and all the other disciplines I've pursued in my avoidance of science, so maybe I shouldn't complain.

But still, I can't help thinking about the lives I have seen lost in that building I knew was an environmental disaster, and I can't help thinking about the humming mass of wires outside my apartment in Englewood, Colorado; the mass of wires that, although I didn't know it at the time, resulted in the one of the earliest claims of EMF contamination.

I wish I had known what I am realizing now, that the science I practiced as a kid, from dissecting bugs and Model A's to exercises in electrolysis, and an electric motor I built when I was 10 years old and still have, was real science.

The numbers should come from the experience. That's not the way I was taught science. I don't know how science is taught now, but I suspect somebody like me would still be disenchanted by it.

I'm afraid the mobile phone EMF's are still going to claim lives, like that mass of wires outside my apartment 30 years ago eventually would. I don't know how to stop that march of progress, that advancement of science--except this way.

--lemit
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#12 Pyrotex

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Posted 05 July 2009 - 01:21 PM

The three biggest reasons that modern public school science classes suck, IMHO, are these:

Bad teachers, bad textbooks, and bad approach.

1. Teachers of science should not only be GOOD at teaching, they should ENJOY science. They should have fond memories of their science classes (as I do), and all the fun they had learning and applying science to the world around them. Teachers must be able to convey the fascination and wonder of science, not just the facts and numbers.

2. Textbooks are now written by committees. A 20-chapter science book for 7th graders may have has as many as 20 authors, or more. A committee of bureaucrats and brothers-in-law mix and match the pieces so as to offend or disturb the fewest number of parents. No effort is made to make the book interesting. They are working to a checklist of 'facts' that must be taught to 7th graders: gravity, check; mass, check; energy, check...

3. Today's classroom is so highly scripted that there is no room for questions. And certainly no room for the best teaching model of all: experimentation. Given the availability of interactive educational simulations, it should be a breeze to teach kids about force, momentum, orbits, collisions, magnetic fields, electricity. You should have to tear them away from the computers. Experiments with real stuff, like rolling balls on ramps (like Galileo used to discover the laws of motion!), building electric motors, building mousetrap cars, should be easy and fun. Pendulums. Springs. Friction. Magnets. This is the way to learn!

#13 Pyrotex

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 08:39 AM

...I'm afraid the mobile phone EMF's are still going to claim lives, like that mass of wires outside my apartment 30 years ago eventually would. I don't know how to stop that march of progress, that advancement of science--except this way...

Lemit,
perhaps we should start a thread on cell phone EMF. It seems to be (still) a hot subject these days, and is obviously of concern to you.

I have researched a fair amount on the subject over the last decade or so, and have convinced myself that there is minimum, if any, danger from the modest amounts of EMF that we mundane folks come in contact with: cell phones, bundles of power lines feeding an apartment block, the high tension lines a block away, the Tesla coil in the high school lab, etc.

My conclusion is, there just isn't a plausible mechanism for the EMF causing damage to our biological molecules. The average protein or amino acid in our cells and DNA are built on carbon-chain backbones, the strongest chemical bond in the universe. It takes a lot of EMF energy to break those bonds. In fact, it takes at least the energy of a microwave photon to even heat the water and oil in our cells, and an ultraviolet photon to break a carbon-chain bond.

The EMF from cell phones use high frequencies, yes, but nowhere near the frequencies required in a microwave oven. And several orders of magnitude less than UV light.

The only case I have ever heard of where someone died of actual "EMF toxicity" was the guy who serviced the radio antennas on top of the Empire State Building, way back in the 1940s. After several decades of being immersed every day in EMF totalling hundreds of kilowatts (a cell phone is ~5 watts) he died from a neural deterioration that had never been diagnosed before.

I know this may not be convincing to you. If you want, give me a call on your cell phone and we can discuss this at great length. :D :D ;) :D ;) :D ;)

#14 Michaelangelica

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 02:12 AM

I think we should concentrate our attention on the well document adverse health effects of POPs.

It is amazing how long it takes to get these poisons off the market.

Rachel carson was writing about DDT 50 years ago and we are still using masses of it.

#15 stereologist

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 04:43 AM

I am always amazed at the statements made in books for children. Basic information is often wrong. This continues throughout much of the early curriculum.

Typical mistakes:
Stars come in many different colors red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.
Electricity is electrons zooming down the wire at the speed of light.
The seed blew far, far away over the oceans and grew into a tree.

#16 Larv

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 09:51 AM

I am always amazed at the statements made in books for children. Basic information is often wrong. This continues throughout much of the early curriculum.

Typical mistakes:
Stars come in many different colors red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.
Electricity is electrons zooming down the wire at the speed of light.
The seed blew far, far away over the oceans and grew into a tree.

My rant for a typical mistake that often occurs in a biology class: Evolution is directional and measures the progress of biological complexity.

#17 stereologist

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 01:35 PM

That's a good one too. I wanted to show that the mistakes begin in the most elementary of presentations. If a book intended for K through 6 can't get the basics right, then how can books intended for older audiences.