Module 1: Philosophy
Activity 1: Science And Technology
Developing A Personal Construct
A 21st century curriculum will develop in students a generic capacity and aspiration to learn (Claxton 2007 cited in Snape, P. and Fox-Turnbull, W. (2011). Science and Technology education hold an important place in the modern world. However there are challenges facing both science and technology education in the 21st century.
Challenges Facing Science Education In The 21st Century
According to Milne (2010 p.103), the two major factors that will impact the teaching of science are crowded curriculum and declining students' interests towards science education. These factors are the catalyst for a host of different challenges that New Zealand teachers face in science education.
Teachers who lack confidence in their ability to teach science try to avoid it by turning it into a reading or observational experiences through 'fun activities' that has no science learning outcomes. These low self-confidence can be attributed to lack of content knowledge, limited resources, priority of science education in the school curriculum and lack of pedagogical knowledge has resulted in many primary students now experiencing ineffective learning of science (Education Review Office, 2012 as cited in Sexton et al 2013, p. 85).
Limited or non-existence ongoing professional learning and development in science education is also a contributing factor, as teachers do not have crucial support in the classroom outside the training sessions. Public and parental stereotypes and apathy towards science education in school is another issue.
Both Bolstad and Hipkins (2008) commented that primary school teachers face challenges due to a pattern of disengagement from science learning that begins in from Year 4 onwards. Naturally this is a major concern as students who show a declining interests in science education, will be low achievers and this has a snowball effect leading to complete detachment from science education and future career involvement in science related fields.
NZC (2007) identifies the need for major challenges and opportunities that confront our world to be approached from a scientific perspective. Thus teachers should know how to get students to identify problems and be able to use scientific approach to make informed decisions. In short they need to think like scientists by considering cultural and environmental implications.
Challenges Facing Technology Education In The 21st Century
Technology Education offers rich contexts for study, social construction of outcomes, connections, cooperation and collaboration with others, and practical engagement in worthwhile and real-world activities (Snape & Fox-Turnbull, 2011).
However technology education is still very much classroom and text-book confined. As in science education, few teachers have the time or knowledge background to become proficient in this complex area of technology education and view technology education as an afterthought because they feel the curriculum is already overloaded with other 'important' learning areas such as literacy and numeracy.
Technology expands human possibilities by addressing needs and realising opportunities.(NZC 2007). This calls for the teaching of technology to be current and based on authentic contexts that will address environmental and cultural issues.
Resources are limited and very costly and most schools have very limited budget for technology education. There are less professional development opportunities available for mainstream teachers and the notion that technology education is only for the Year 7 and 8 may restrict teachers from other areas of a school to give it any importance.
Another challenge that teachers face is the ability to integrate a variety of skills , ethics and cross-cultural themes into technology education and make it real for students. (Snape, P. and Fox-Turnbull, W. (2011).
Claxton, 2007 (as cited in Snape & Fox-Turnbull, 2011) calls for an ‘epistemic culture change’ in schools to replace stand-alone courses in thinking skills or ‘tricks of the trade’ type learning. Teachers who are supported and have the necessary content and pedagogy knowledge in both science and technology education will be able to fulfill the needs of 21st century teaching as envisioned in the New Zealand Curriculum.
Image Illustrating Challenges Facing Science And Technology Education In The 21st Century
This image of a classroom where the teacher is 'lecturing' illustrates the challenges that I have mentioned earlier. It is clear that the teacher has failed to make science and technology education exciting and authentic for the students.
This is evident from the various stages of dis-engagement among the students. Learning has been very text-book centred and has no further investigation or problem solving activities. The students were not motivated by the teacher's 'lecture-style' teaching, as they did not have any hands-on activities that could have led them to engage, explore and explain issues and problems and link their science and technology learning to their daily lives.
Image Illustrating Authentic Connections To Science And Technology Education
Potential Learning Intentions
The teacher can use this image to show students how the speed at which an object is moving is directly related to the magnitude of the force.
Through observation and simulation activities, the students can:
identify and describe the effect of movement and forces (contact and non-contact) on the motion of the rolling car;
develop an understanding on the concept of friction, what causes friction, how to reduce friction;
relate how brakes and tyres can increase friction and reduce sliding;
compare the physical and chemical properties in the brakes and tyres.
They can also explore and explain the damages both to human and building that could have resulted from this accident.
Through scientific evidence the students can provide solutions so such accidents will not happen again.
Levels 1-2: Physical Inquiry and Physics Concepts
Explore everyday examples of physical phenomena such as movement, and forces;
Seek and describe simple patterns in physical phenomena.
Levels 3: Physical Inquiry and Physics Concepts
Explore, describe, and represent patterns and trends for everyday examples pf physical phenomena such as movement, and forces.
Levels 1-2: Properties and changes of matter
Observe, describe, and compare physical and chemical properties of common materials and changes that occur when materials are heated or cooled.
Level 3: Properties and changes of matter
Group materials in different ways, based on the observations and measurements of the characteristic chemical and physical properties of a range of different materials.
Compare chemical and physical changes.
Potential Authentic Context For Technology Lessons
Students can use the problem-solving ideas generated in the science lessons to come up with ways to prevent this accident from occurring again. They can propose to the school principal the need to build fence or solid barriers on top of the bank. The students can develop a conceptual statement why a fence is paramount to the safety of the school children. They can plan a brief development focusing on the attributes and specifications of the fences, such as how the fence should look like, the cost of building the fence, the choice of materials needed and the suggested time frame to complete the building of the fence.
Planning for practice
- Students can outline a general plan to support why the school need a fence/barrier and identifying appropriate steps and resources need to build the fence/barrier.
- Students can describe the attributes of the fence/barrier by taking into account the need for it and the resources available.
Outcome development and evaluation
- Students can communicate the attributes of the potential fence/barrier to the school principal.
- Students can develop a prototype of the fence/barrier to test the design concepts.
- Students will develop an understanding that fence/barrier is made of materials that have performance properties.
- Students will develop an understanding that they need to consider inputs, controlled transformations and outputs while designing their fence/barrier.
Nature of Technology
Characteristics of technology
- Students will develop an understanding that the development of the fence/barrier is a purposeful invention through design.
Characteristics of technological outcomes
- Students will develop an understanding that fence/barrier is developed by people and have physical nature and a functional nature.
Bolstad, R., & Hipkins, R. (2008). Seeing Yourself in Science (Report).
Milne (2010). A Sense of Wonder, arising from Aesthetic Experiences, should be the Starting Point for Inquiry in Primary Science. Science Education International. Vol.21, No.2, June 2010, 102-115. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ890665.pdf
Sexton, S. S., Facer, R. & Ross, C. (2013). Relevant, useful, and meaningful learning opportunities in science using Building Science Concepts. Curriculum Matters 9: 82-101. Retrieved from http://www.nzcer.org.nz.ezproxy.canterbury.ac.nz/system/files/CM2013_9_082.pdf
Snape, p. and fox-turnbull, w. (2011). Twenty-First Century Learning and Technology Education Nexus.
The New Zealand Curriculum. (2007). New Zealand: Learning Media.
Image 2 of Activity 1 is from personal collection