I hesitated to share this video story problem that I created at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Although poking fun at myself, it does concern me that I ask the right questions to at least get learners headed in a direction with vocabulary and a frame of reference that will actually lead them to success. I haven’t been in the classroom for a few years now (teaching full time that is; I still visit and work with students on a weekly basis), so I had to ask some of my well respected friends in the world of science education if my video story problem about Foucault’s Pendulum even made sense.
I’ve never been great at higher math and mathematics-based physics (I earned a solid C in my advanced calculus-based physics course in college). So I was nervous to ask what seemed to be far too simple a question (possible a naive one) about the conceptual workings of Foucault’s famous pendulum designed to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. I had no idea how this pendulum would work (in theory) unless if was directly above one of the two poles on the planet. So I asked some educators with much larger brains than I have when it comes to science:
— Frank Noschese (@fnoschese) April 15, 2014
Frank gave me encouragement that I was at least thinking about it in right way, and helped me better understand that there actually would be many points on the Earth on which this pendulum just would not work the way Foucault intended. Thanks, Frank! One of the questions I’m left with then is whether or not we should have educators that would be willing to appear genuinely confused/curious about scientific concepts?
Ira Flatow, the host of NPR’s Science Friday, does a masterful job of asking innocent questions that often make me wonder whether he truly knows what he’s talking about. It makes me wonder if parents and students would support the same type of activities, or at least guiding questions, in which the educator displays a sense of wonderment, curiosity, and perhaps a bit of naivety in hopes of generating interest in the topic by learners. Or would they rather prefer to have content experts doling out the information that learners need, exactly when they need it?