Archives for March 2006

Constantly Striving for Inquiry-Based Learning

I received an email from a science educator colleague and friend, and he included a copy of a paper that he presented last fall at conference among science teacher educators. The paper, entitled “The journey from powerful ideas to classroom practice:Enacting inquiry pedagogy through co-construction, not indoctrination,” by Michael Dias, Kennesaw State University. The paper also earned the “outstanding faculty position paper” award at the conference. The paper traces the issues related to attempts by science teacher educators to develop inquiry-oriented programs to prepare secondary science teachers.… Read more

International Space Station Advances; Impact on Research

NASA announced, after a meeting in Florida among all of the participating countries (United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada), that a new plan for the completing the $100 billion International Space Station (ISS) was worked out. NASA indicated that it would take 16 flights of the space shuttle (Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour) in order to deliver equipment and materials needed to complete the various components of the ISS.

Of course this has resulted in some controversy among scientists, engineers and managers.… Read more

Back to the Moon and Then Onto Mars

In the last post I reported that new goals for NASA, established by the current Administration, not only involve sending astronauts to Mars, but a return series of trips to the moon. Instead of Apollo, the astronauts will travel in an “apollo-like” spacecraft called CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle). I think NASA administrators are involved in naming this vehicle—the CEV?

Here is what it looks like:

It’s bigger than Apollo (18 feet vs 12 feet in diameter) and can hold four astronauts; it will also be launched by a smaller rocket than the Saturn V which shot Apollo into orbit; all four astronauts will be able to land on the moon, and when it returns to Earth, it will return to a land-base location, rather than being dropped into the ocean as the Apollo missions did.… Read more

NASA’s Budget: Funding Big; Loss for Small Projects

Last year, President Bush established a goal for NASA that would put astronauts on Mars by 2020. This has naturally impacted (intended) NASA’s budget. Although the NASA budget will increase this year, many projects that are much smaller in scope than completing the International Space Station, creating a successor to the Orbitor, and working on the Mission to Mars are suffering. Unfortunately, many of these smaller projects advance scientific knowledge and understanding of the universe, and are being eliminated, or put on hold.… Read more

Why ID Should Not Be Taught in a Science Course

Intelligent Design (ID) advocates are clever folks. They know that a religious belief (like the creation story) can not be taught in a science course because it is not science, although for years “creation science” proponents tried in just about every state to get school districts to demand equal time with evolution by natural selection. That idea didn’t work. So in the last ten years, a group of individuals who organized themselves around the concept of Intelligent Design and then attached themselves to the Discovery Institute have been attempting to “wedge” the concept into the science curriculum, claiming that Intelligent Design is indeed science.… Read more