Re: [asa] Accuracy vs. Methodology in Science Education

From: Freeman, Louise Margaret <>
Date: Thu May 24 2007 - 20:04:11 EDT

I don't think it is necessary for a student to be 100% "right" when planning and executing a
science experiment. To give an example from my own childhood, I planned a 6th grade science
experient based on light. Upon learning that light could be split up into the "Roy G. Biv" colors,
and that shining the light through a red cell would block all but red, etc.; I reasoned that, if
pure sunlight focused throught a magnifiying glass would set a piece of paper on fire in 10
seconds, it would take 70 seconds for red light, or bue light, etc to do the same. Not a bad
hypothesis for a 6th grader, if I do say so myself! So I got some colored cels and a magnifying
glass and tested the hypothesis. Of course, it didn't work, the colored light set the paper on fire
pretty much as fast as the sunlight did. My parents then explained that most of the engery in
sunlight was not in the visible spectrum. Lesson learned.

The point is, my parents and teacher turned to established scientific principles to show me what
the flaw in my preditiction was. I was in no way encouraged to conclude that light was in fact
not separable into component colors by natural means after all, but only through direct
intervention by God (though that would be consistant with the Biblical origin of the rainbow,
Louise M. Freeman, PhD
Psychology Dept
Mary Baldwin College
Staunton, VA 24401
FAX 540-887-7121

-----Original Message-----
From: Christine Smith <>
Date: Thu, 24 May 2007 13:55:30 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [asa] Accuracy vs. Methodology in Science Education

> A friend of mine forwarded me the following tidbit
> from:
> on/
> "Brian Benson, an eighth-grade student who won first
> place in the Life Science/Biology category for his
> project "Creation Wins!!!," says he disproved part of
> the theory of evolution. Using a rolled-up paper towel
> suspended between two glasses of water with Epsom
> Salts, the paper towel formed stalactites. He states
> that the theory that they take millions of years to
> develop is incorrect.
> "Scientists say it takes millions of years to form
> stalactites," Benson said. "However, in only a couple
> of hours, I have formed stalactites just by using
> paper towel and Epsom Salts.""
> Initially, I was rather dismayed at the YEC "science"
> implicit in this story...but after thinking about it
> for a while, I posed the question to my friend "what
> are science fairs really for? Should the student be
> judged based on how much they struggled with and
> utilized the scientific method, regardless of the
> interpretation they come to, or should it be more
> about the accuracy of their conclusions?" This evolved
> (no pun intended) into a more general discussion about
> where the balance was between these two? And is the
> criteria different in the context of tests/quizzes
> versus the more exploratory context of
> reports/projects? In this particular example, can we
> really fault the student for coming to the conclusion
> that he did? Didn't he apply, to the best of his
> ability (and as much as we can tell from the article),
> the scientific method?
> Just curious as to the forum's take on this one...
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Received on Thu May 24 20:04:35 2007

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