“Space, Time, and Complexity: Thinking and Learning about the Earth and Climate”
Over the past six years the speaker has participated in two NSF-funded projects to promote research on thinking and learning in the geosciences, titled Bringing Research on Learning to the Geosciences and Synthesis of Research on Thinking and Learning in the Geosciences. The projects involved collaborations among researchers and teachers in the geosciences and cognitive scientists who work on learning and development; thinking and reasoning; visual cognition; and instructional design. The talk will describe what we learned on these projects, particularly about the roles of space, time, and complexity in thinking and learning about the earth and climate change.
“Reasoning about Causal Complexity: Climate Change and other Complex Problems”
Our world has never been simple, yet our minds often reduce complexity to simpler forms as we process the information. In the Understandings of Consequence Project, we have been researching how people deal with causal complexity and how this can be a problem given some of the intractable problems of our time, for instance climate change. The talk will introduce some patterns that we default towards and how they differ from
ways of thinking that capture complexity and enable sustainability. I'll share some of the work that we are doing in K-12 classrooms to help the next generation deal with complex causality.
Executive Vice President, Public Agenda
"Are We Beginning to See the Light? A Look at the Public's Perspective on Energy, the Environment, Scientists and Science Education"
An informed public is crucial to solving the country's energy and environmental problems, and the United States needs to ramp up science and math education nationwide to maintain a strong economy. How well do Americans understand these science and technology challenges? What can scientists and science educators do to advance public understanding and engagement on these issues?
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Hazards to Productive STEM Education through Excessive Reliance on Standardized Tests”
The introduction of science education into the curriculum developed
slowly and unevenly from colonial times until WWII. In the period after
WWII and particularly after Sputnik, US scientific and engineering
productivity led the world. This extraordinary scientific and technical
innovation had its roots in a broad-based system of public education
emphasizing hands-on experience, and departing from the European model
of tracking with standard national tests. In the last decade US public
education has been deeply perturbed by the introduction of mandatory
standardized tests, most notably through the NCLB. The introduction of
high stakes tests, for example the MCAS tests in Massachusetts, was
brought about by a small but influential group allied with conservative
think tanks advocating privatization of public education. High stakes
tests were implemented over the opposition of the major organizations
in Mass who were knowledgeable about education and learning, and
counter to the recommendations of national scientific bodies1. The
impact of high stakes tests are to narrow curriculum, drive creative
teachers out of education, and replace inquiry-based learning with 19th
century rote drill and kill rote learning classes2. This is
particularly damaging in STEM education where students need to be able
to formulate questions, design experiments, interpret unexpected
results, and make new and novel connections and observations. The very
considerable expenditures to the test industry should be redirected to
investment in laboratory facilities and supplies, teacher training and
professional development, computer access, and resources for projects
and field trips. Standardized tests can be used as one component of
student and school assessment, but always combined with more authentic
measures including classroom tests, lab reports, science projects, and
1 Science for all Americans, Project 2061, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington DC 1989; High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion and Graduation, (Edited by Jay P. Heubert and Robert M. Hauser), National Research Council (1999).
2 David C. Berliner and Sharon L. Nichols, Collateral Damage (Harvard University Press, 2007); Alfie Kohn The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools (Portsmouth, N.H.,Heinemann, 2000).
Senior Science editor
“Communicating Climate Change on Television”
How do you translate the abstract science and politics of global warming to television, a highly visual medium that demands a lot of emotion and action? Climate programs tend to fall into predictable genres, ranging from "gloom and doom" exploitations of disaster to "eco-fantasies" about the environmental future. In this talk, Evan Hadingham, Science Editor of the PBS NOVA series, will discuss NOVA's approach to producing shows about global warming, highlighting the special challenges of covering this vital subject. The take-home message is that climate programs can be successful without relying on "disaster porn."
Raymond S. Bradley
Department of Geosciences
Where do we stand on Global Warming?
temperatures have risen by ~1°C since the end of the 19th
century. This increase has not been
linear, as there have been periods when temperatures were stable for short
periods before rising once again. The
reasons for these changes in the rate of temperature rise are related to
anthropogenic factors (sulphate aerosol pollution
versus greenhouse gas inputs to the atmosphere) as well as to natural factors
(volcanic eruptions, solar irradiance variations, El Niño/Southern Oscillation
[ENSO] fluctuations, etc). Over the last
decade or so, temperatures have not risen at the same rate as in previous decades,
and this has led to speculation that global warming is over. This view was reinforced by the unusually
cold winter that many parts of the