By: Thomas O’Brien
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Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning With Discrepant Events
|Type of Product:||NSTA Press Book (also see downloadable PDF version of this book)
|Grade Level:||Elementary School, Middle School, High School
|Read Inside:||Read a sample chapter: Air Mass Matters: Creating a Need-to-Know
Internet connections for Brain-Powered Science
Our reviewers—top-flight teachers and other outstanding science educators—have determined that this resource is among the best available supplements for science teaching.
[Read the full review]
• How can a long metal needle pass through a balloon without popping it?
• How can water flow at very different rates through two identical funnels?
• How can a stick, placed on a table under several sheets of newspaper and extended over the edge of a table, snap when quickly struck—without lifting or tearing the paper?
Author Thomas O’Brien takes these and 30 more science inquiry activities to a higher level in this book for educators who love to surprise and challenge their students with unanticipated results. Using experiments based on the science of a “discrepant event”—an experiment or demonstration in which the outcome is not what students expect—O’Brien shows how learners can be motivated to reconsider their preconceived notions and think more closely about what has actually occurred and the underlying scientific explanations.
What makes this volume more valuable than a mere activity book is the addition of a science education component to the extensive science content found in each activity. Each discrepant event is shown to be analogous to a pedagogical principle. Speaking directly to teachers, O’Brien writes: Your participation as teacher-as-learner-experimenter (rather than simply passive reader) in these minds-on activities will lead you to question, and help you to revise, your implicit assumptions about the nature of science, teaching, and learning. At the same time, you will develop expertise with activities that you can use with your own students. The dual-purpose activities thus allow you to unlock two doors with one key—the doors to your own learning and to your students’ learning. The detailed analogies between the activities and science learning make the book an ideal resource for middle and high school teachers, science teacher educators and their preservice students, and professional development specialists alike.
This thorough and thought-provoking text includes more than 200 up-to-date internet resources, as well as extensions to each of the physical science, biology, and chemistry activities—bringing the total number of inquiry activities to nearly 120. Most important, the author reminds teachers that the study of science is full of surprises and should be both meaningful and fun for students.
“The internet resources alone are worth the price of the book!”
—Walt Woolbaugh, grades 6–8 science teacher, Manhattan, Montana, and adjunct assistant professor of graduate science education, Montana State University
“This book is an excellent text for college of education teachers to use with their prospective teachers grades 5–12.”
—Janice Crowley, science department chair, Wichita (Kansas) Collegiate Upper School, and former secondary science methods instructor, Wichita State University
(mouse over for full classification)
Scientists and inventors
Safety and security
Conservation of energy
Scientific habits of mind
Using scientific equipment
|Intended User Role:||Curriculum Supervisor, Elementary-Level Educator, Middle-Level Educator, Teacher
|Educational Issues:||Assessment of students, Classroom management, Curriculum, Educational research, Inquiry learning, Instructional materials, Interdisciplinary, Learning theory, Professional development, Science safety, Teacher preparation, Teaching strategies
About the Author
Science Education Topics
Section 1: Introduction to Interactive Teaching and Experiential Learning
Activity 1: Analogies: Powerful Teaching-Learning Tools
Activity 2: Möbius Strip: Connecting Teaching and Learning
Activity 3: Burning a Candle at Both Ends: Classrooms as Complex Systems
Section 2: Human Perception as a Window to Conceptions
Activity 4: Perceptual Paradoxes: Multisensory Science and Measurement
Activity 5: Optical Illusions: Seeing and Cognitive Construction
Activity 6: Utensil Music: Teaching Sound Science
Activity 7: Identification Detectives: Sounds and Smells of Science
Section 3: Nature of Cognition and Cognitive Learning Theory
Activity 8: Two-Balloon Balancing Act: Constructivist Teaching
Activity 9: Batteries and Bulbs: Teaching Is More Than Telling
Activity 10: Talking Tapes: Beyond Hearing to Understanding
Activity 11: Super-Absorbent Polymers: Minds-On Learning and Brain “Growth”
Activity 12: Mental Puzzles, Memory, and Mnemonics: Seeking Patterns
Activity 13: Sound Tube Toys: The Importance of Varying Stimuli
Activity 14: Convection: Conceptual Change Teaching
Activity 15: Brain-Powered Lightbulb: Knowledge Transmission?
Activity 16: Air Mass Matters: Creating a Need-to-Know
Activity 17: 3D Magnetic Fields: Making Meaningful Connections
Activity 18: Electric Generators: Connecting With Students
Activity 19: Static Electricity: Charging Up Two-by-Four Teaching
Activity 20: Needle Through the Balloon: Skewering Misconceptions
Activity 21: Happy and Sad Bouncing Balls: Student Diversity Matters
Activity 22: Electrical Circuits: Promoting Learning Communities
Activity 23: Eddy Currents: Learning Takes Time
Activity 24: Cognitive Inertia: Seeking Conceptual Change
Activity 25: Optics and Mirrors: Challenging Learners’ Illusions
Activity 26: Polarizing Filters: Examining Our Conceptual Filters
Activity 27: Invisible Gases Matter: Knowledge Pours Poorly
Activity 28: The Stroop Effect: The Persistent Power of Prior Knowledge
Activity 29: Rattlebacks: Prior Belief and Models for Eggciting Science
Activity 30: Tornado in a Bottle: The Vortex of Teaching and Learning
Activity 31: Floating and Sinking: Raising FUNdaMENTAL Questions
Activity 32: Cartesian Diver: A Transparent, but Deceptive “Black Box”
Activity 33: Crystal Heat: Catalyzing Cognitive Construction
Appendix A: Selection Criteria for Discrepant Events and Analogical Activities (Includes Connections to National Science Education Standards)
Appendix B: The 5E Teaching Cycle: An Integrated Curriculum-Instruction-Assessment Model
Appendix C: Science Content Topics
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National Standards Correlation
This resource has 71 correlations with the National Standards.
- Physical Science
- Properties of objects and materials
- Materials can exist in different states--solid, liquid, and gas. (K-4)
- Properties and changes of properties in matter
- A substance has characteristic properties, such as density, a boiling point, and solubility. (5-8)
- Structure and properties of matter
- Atoms may be bonded together into molecules or crystalline solids. (9-12)
- Solids, liquids, and gases differ in the distances and angles between molecules or atoms and therefore the energy that binds them together. (9-12)
- In solids the structure is nearly rigid; in liquids molecules or atoms move around each other but do not move apart; and in gases molecules or atoms move almost independently of each other and are mostly far apart. (9-12)
- Carbon atoms can bond to one another in chains, rings, and branching networks to form a variety of structures, including synthetic polymers, oils, and the large molecules essential to life. (9-12)
- Chemical Reactions
- Catalysts, such as metal surfaces, accelerate chemical reactions. (9-12)
- Position and motion of objects
- Sound is produced by vibrating objects. (K-4)
- The pitch of the sound can be varied by changing the rate of vibration. (K-4)
- Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism
- Light can be reflected by a mirror, refracted by a lens, or absorbed by the object. (K-4)
- Heat can move from one object to another by conduction. (K-4)
- Electricity in circuits can produce light, heat, sound, and magnetic effects. (K-4)
- Electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass. (K-4)
- Magnets attract and repel each other and certain kinds of other materials. (K-4)
- Transfer of Energy
- Energy is a property of many substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical motion, sound, nuclei, and the nature of a chemical. (5-8)
- Heat moves in predictable ways, flowing from warmer objects to cooler ones, until both reach the same temperature. (5-8)
- Light interacts with matter by transmission (including refraction), absorption, or scattering (including reflection). To see an object, light from that object—emitted by or scattered from it—must enter the eye. (5-8) (5-8)
- To see an object, light from that object--emitted by or scattered from it--must enter the eye.
- Electrical circuits provide a means of transferring electrical energy when heat, light, sound, and chemical changes are produced. (5-8)
- Heat, light, mechanical motion, or electricity might all be involved in energy transfers. (5-8)
- The sun's energy arrives as light with a range of wavelengths, consisting of visible light, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation. (5-8)
- Motion and Forces
- Gravitation is a universal force that each mass exerts on any other mass. (9-12)
- The strength of the gravitational attractive force between two masses is proportional to the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. (9-12)
- Electricity and magnetism are two aspects of a single electromagnetic force. (9-12)
- Moving electric charges produce magnetic forces, and moving magnets produce electric forces. (9-12)
- The effects of moving electric charges help students to understand electric motors and generators. (9-12) (Electricity)
- The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. (5-8)
- An object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed and in a straight line. (inertia) (5-8)
- Conservation of energy and increase in disorder
- All energy can be considered to be either kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion; potential energy, which depends on relative position; or energy contained by a field, such as electromagnetic waves. (9-12)
- Heat consists of random motion and the vibrations of atoms, molecules, and ions. (9-12)
- The higher the temperature, the greater the atomic or molecular motion. (9-12)
- In all energy transfers, the overall effect is that the energy is spread out uniformly. Examples are the transfer of energy from hotter to cooler objects by conduction, radiation, or convection and the warming of our surroundings when we burn fuels. (9-12)
- Interactions of energy and matter
- Waves, including sound and seismic waves, waves on water, and light waves, have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter. (9-12)
- Electromagnetic waves result when a charged object is accelerated or decelerated. (9-12)
- Electromagnetic waves include radio waves (the longest wavelength), microwaves, infrared radiation (radiant heat), visible light, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays. (9-12)
- The energy of electromagnetic waves is carried in packets whose magnitude is inversely proportional to the wavelength. (9-12)
- Life Science
- Biological evolution
- Natural selection and its evolutionary consequences provide a scientific explanation for the fossil record of ancient life forms, as well as for the striking molecular similarities observed among the diverse species of living organisms. (9-12)
- Science as Inquiry
- Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
- Use data to construct a reasonable explanation.
- Communicate investigations and explanations.
- Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
- Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence.
- Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.
- Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
- Understandings about scientific inquiry
- Types of investigations include describing objects, events, and organisms; classifying them; and doing a fair test (experimenting).
- Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge). Good explanations are based on evidence from investigations. (K-4)
- Scientists usually inquire about how physical, living, or designed systems function. (9-12)
- History and Nature of Science
- Science as a human endeavor
- Science and technology have been practiced by people for a long time.
- Men and women have made a variety of contributions throughout the history of science and technology.
- Women and men of various social and ethnic backgrounds--and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations--engage in the activities of science, engineering, and related fields such as the health professions. (5-8)
- Nature of science
- Scientists formulate and test their explanations of nature using observation, experiments, and theoretical and mathematical models. Those ideas are not likely to change greatly in the future. (5-8)
- Although all scientific ideas are tentative and subject to change and improvement in principle, for most major ideas in science, there is much experimental and observational confirmation. (5-8)
- Process Standards for Professional Development
- Clear, shared goals based on a vision of science learning, teaching, and teacher development congruent with the National Science Education Standards . (NSES)
- Prepares educators to apply research to decision making. (NSDC)
- Address teachers' needs as learners and build on their current knowledge of science content, teaching, and learning. (NSES)
- Involves teachers in actively investigating phenomena that can be studied scientifically...(NSES)
- Introduce teachers to scientific literature, media, and technological resources that expand their science knowledge and their ability to access further knowledge. (NSES)
- Uses learning strategies appropriate to the intended goal. (NSDC)
- Applies knowledge about human learning and change. (NSDC)
- Content Standards
- Quality Teaching
- Deepens educators’ content knowledge, provides them with research-based instructional strategies to assist students in meeting rigorous academic standards, and prepares them to use various types of classroom assessments appropriately. (NSDC)
- Teaching Standards
- Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students.
- Select science content and adapt and design curricula to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students.
- Select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners.
- Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers
- Encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry, as well as the curiosity, openness to new ideas and data, and skepticism that characterize science.
- Orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas.
- Recognize and respond to student diversity and encourage all students to participate fully in science learning.
- Teachers provide students with the time, space, and resources needed to learn science.
- Create a setting for student work that is flexible and supportive of science inquiry.
- Ensure a safe working environment.
- Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry.
- Enable students to have a significant voice in decisions about the content and context of their work and require students to take responsibility for the learning of all members of the community.
- Structure and facilitate ongoing formal and informal discussion based on a shared understanding of rules of scientific discourse.
- Model and emphasize the skills, attitudes, and values of scientific inquiry.
- Display and demand respect for the diverse ideas, skills, and experiences of all students.
- Nurture collaboration among students.
“[The author] provides such in-depth background—even historical context—for the principle under consideration, that every one of the 33 chapters is worthwhile. … Teachers will find that the book places students’ enjoyable and memorable experiences of unanticipated or even startling outcomes of science activities within the framework of the unifying principles of a given branch of science.”
SB&F, August 2010
“Drawing on some 33 years in science education, in both K-12 and higher education, O'Brien (education, Binghamton U., SUNY) presents a practical text inviting current and future grades 5-12 science teachers, professional development specialists, and college-level science teacher educators to engage in science that involves both hands-on play and minds-on mental processing. Its 33 activities provide an introduction to interactive teaching and experiential learning; an exploration of some of the strengths and weaknesses of human perceptions, and how to design and use technology to extend the range, sensitivity, and reliability of our perceptions; and opportunities for exploring the nature of cognition and cognitive learning theory. Each activity includes a title; expected outcome; science concepts; science education concepts; list of required and optional materials; powerful quotes from famous scientists, philosophers, or educators to call attention to the history and philosophy of science; procedure instructions; debriefing suggestions; related activities for further exploration; lists of internet links to supplemental resources; and answers to procedure and debriefing questions.”
Annotation ©2010 Book News Inc. Portland, OR
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