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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Practical Science

It’s Science Fair season and judges from the Junior Academy of the Washington Academy of Sciences were evaluating projects at Washington Mathematics Science and Technology Public Charter High School.

What has changed in 2013?
The baseline projects are getting better. There are books and websites for improving science projects and the students are using them. That created a similarity of how the projects looked and headings for communicating the research, but understanding what had to be captured for presenting the experiments, has led to better architecture and execution of the experiments.

Having a more detailed idea of expected outcomes leads to better experiments.

These students are comfortable using the internet. They were using and showing resources from multiple sources, more than I could ever get from a library, which was increasing the precision and understanding of their scientific terminology.

The students know more. My judging partner (President of IEEE USA) and I were treated to an explanation of how one of the students had typed a sample of DNA. I turned to him and said, “We used to do that in High School, didn’t we?” The future is right here in our high schools.

Now that the baseline has been raised because students are mastering so many basic science skills, what else is needed for great experiments?

For me, they are the ones that solve problems that are important to individual students. One scientist was explaining a baby food safety experiment she had imagined, executed, and reported. During her presentation, she offhandedly said, “Babies like cool food.”

I asked her how she knew that. She grinned and said, “I feed my niece and she likes cool better than warm.”

Now that unlimited information is unlocked by the internet, great science is practical science.

Read more at The Junior Academy.