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Seminars on Education - Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the Tools of Science to Teach Science - Mar 2008

Seminar 1 - Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the Tools of Science to Teach Science - Mar 2008

Spurred by such real-world challenges as global warming, Carl Wieman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, has transformed his curiosity about improving science education into a vocation. Wieman is convinced that science education must be improved, not simply to inspire and train the next generation of scientists, but to educate a citizenry "to make wise decisions on tough questions."

Unhappy with the apparent lack of impact his undergraduate physics courses had on students, Wieman began a personal odyssey to discover why traditional methods of teaching science -- the massive lecture hall, the fact-filled lectures -- seemed to fail in the task of conveying key concepts, much less exciting listeners. He delved into cognitive psychology research, and learned that when students are passive, they retain a mere 10% of the facts conveyed to them, and that indeed, the human brain has a limited amount of RAM. Our working memory can hold around seven items. In addition, students simply "do not develop a good understanding of concepts by hearing them explained in lectures." The brain is like a muscle that must be built up, especially the structures involving long-term memory, Wieman learned, and "to develop the brain requires a strenuous effort over a long time."

Dr. Carl Wieman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001. He is the Director, Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, University of British Columbia.

Carl Wieman
Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the Tools of Science to Teach Science
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT World)
http://mitworld.mit.edu
Date accessed: 2009-02-01
License: Not applicable

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