Science teachers have been having their students keep science notebooks and journals as a way to help students keep a record of their work, and as a place to reflect on their ideas. For many teachers, the journal is one way to help students using writing as a vehicle to learn. Professor Carolyn Keys has developed the Science Writing Heuristic which is designed to help students construct understanding doing practical work. Keys suggests that:
There is evidence that use of the science writing heuristic facilitated students to generate meaning from data, make connections among procedures, data, evidence, and claims, and engage in metacognition. Students’ vague understandings of the nature of science at the beginning of the study were modified to more complex, rich, and specific understandings.
The history of science shows that using notebooks and journals can give students a feel for the work of scientists, especially as the scientist works in the field. Keys suggestions are useful and practical in applying the work of scientists to helping students contruct knowledge.
Sometimes, its helpful to give students examples of how scientists have used notebooks to not only keep a record of their observations, measurements, and musings, but as a practical means of reflecting on their ideas, and in some case making insights into the meaning of their prior observations and work.
Case in point, Darwin’s Secret Notebooks. Minjae Ormes of National Geographic informed me this week that on Tuesday, February 10, 2009, National Geographic Channel will retrace some of Darwin’s expedition on the Voyage of the Beagle using his own diary and field notes. The program is entitled Darwin’s Secret Notebooks. Follow the previous link to the program’s website to find an overview, video, photos, and facts on Darwin’s Notebooks.
According to researchers, Darwin produced 14 notebooks while making excursions during the Beagle expeditions, and they have have identified three additional notebooks used after the voyage of Beagle. All of the notebooks, except the last one can viewed online for free at the Complete Works of Charles Darwin website. You can also listen to audio programs of Darwin’s Beagle Diary.
Darwin used his notebooks to raise questions about his observations and excursions what he saw in the uncharted lands of South America. The video here, from National Geographic is an example of how Darwin questioned his prior thinking and experiences based on new observations and data. Here is questions why a bird species would have evolved as a “flightless bird.” Or as the authors of the National Geographic tried to get inside Darwin’s mind, and indeed the oddity of flightless birds leads Darwiin to question the intentions of the Creator.
This would be a great program to use with your students to encourage and lend support for the keeping of a journal or science notebook.Tags: Carolyn Keys, Charles Darwin, Darwin's Secret Notebooks, journal, science notebook, Science Writing Heuristic, Voyage of the Beagle