Science Forward Fall 2017

Dr. Edyta Greer, Macaulay Honors College, Fall 2017

Category: Blog Entry 2 (page 1 of 2)

Blog Entry 2

While the degree of difficulty may be vastly different, the purpose that labs hold in our schooling, whether from elementary school to college, never really changes.  Whether it is the creation of static in the first grade or the synthesization of aspirin in college, labs have always been used to give students a practical understanding of the topic that was covered in class in a first hand vantage point. They enable students the ability to feel connected to the specific subject since they have an active part in creating it. I think that it is because of the role labs play in students understanding and involvement in the material that is they are currently learning that they should be introduced and used in non specialist science courses.  If one views labs as simply a way to get a better understanding of a certain topic or subject, than there is no reason it should be introduced to all types of science classes. Furthermore, I don’t think that labs should be limited to strictly science courses , but should be used in all subjects where the lab would be conducive to the students learning of the subject.

Blog Entry 2: Lab Reports

In High School, in AP Chemistry we had a few labs scattered throughout the year.  While at the time I enjoyed going to the lab merely because it was a break from class, I now believe that there is a deeper purpose to doing labs.  I think that it’s important to see that what you’re learning can actually be applied to real life.  Sometimes when learning abstract science information, it is hard to imagine ever encountering such a thing in one’s life, but going to the lab makes one realize how real these scientific concepts actually are.  I think that designed lab experiments are pedagogically useful because they are still a means of demonstrating how the concepts that one learns about in class work.  I do not think that labs are necessary for         non-specialist science courses like ours, but I enjoy doing them so I am not complaining.  I do not think that anything I learn during our labs I will ever repeat, but I still think it’s nice to have the knowledge of how things work.  I think the reason that many other classes do not have labs is because the information that is being taught is not as abstract.  A lab in a history class would probably be a history skit.  I think that the whole idea behind labs is to make the information livelier, and performing a skit of a historical event would do so.  One thing I do not like about labs is writing lab reports, however, I do understand the value behind doing so.  I think that the reason lab reports are not written in the same style as English papers is that lab reports need to be concise and get straight to the point.  It is important that a lab report is not too wordy, and just explains explicitly what was done.

Blog Post 2

What sets science apart from other areas/fields of study is that it stresses equal value on both the results and process of a sequence. In an experiment, these is a specific set of steps to follow to stress a correct way of doing something. Your thinking in an experiment has to be methodical and sequential, with each step of the procedure leading to the next, eventually culminating in some sort of result. The process in this setup must be controlled because any deviance from it can lead to altered or flawed results that are not easily replicated. The procedure in any given lab procedure is outlined in detail because for something to be accepted in the scientific community, it must be replicable using a unique sequence. Thus, unlike other academic writing that can include elaborate prose and figurative language, lab reports must be written in a coherent, concise and detailed manner, because their purpose eliminate potential error from those duplicating the experiment.

Personally, I feel that the purpose of doing a lab in school is to experience the practical applications of science concepts taught in the classroom. Students retain information better when through experiences and “doing” rather than just listening and writing, so the practical aspects of a lab certainly help students better understand the science that they have been learning. This is especially important for students taking non-specialist courses – where it is important to thoroughly understand and retain the building blocks of science. Conducting lab experiments in non-specialist science classes allow students to leave the class knowing the fundamental importance of scientific results and research, given that they themselves participated in the scientific process. This is precisely what I seem to gain from our upcoming labs – a stronger understanding and retention of scientific concepts through the experience of actually conducting the experiment.

Blog Post 2 : Thinking About Lab

In high school I was never a big fan of labs. Currently I am still not a big fan of labs. Yes, I agree they are important but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. The purpose of doing labs are important because you get a hands on experience of what you are learning in class. It helps you get a better understanding of the material. But most times I find the labs a little routine and heavily controlled. If done correctly, we know the outcome and know everyone will have the same outcome. There’s no room for mystery or innovation. You know what you will put in and what you will get. However, I do realize that by controlling the experiment you are zoning in on the desired results so students can get a better understanding of what they did. I believe that a class like ours doesn’t really need a lab. We are not specializing in anything and the lab is just a fun learning experience for us. I at least hope to enjoy the lab as well as to walk away with the understanding of what I did. I want it to be interesting and intriguing. In different classes, like history, a lab can be any hands on experience with the material. It can be a play or act out of certain wars or events. This would engage the students, make them enjoy the subject and help them remember it better. The language of labs has to be very clear and specific so that if someone were to read it they can recreate and understand your lab done. There should be no vagueness or confusion. When writing a ab report you should be straightforward and clear.

Blog Entry 2

Lab reports are something I’m pretty familiar with. Coming from a high school specialized in science, we were required to write a lab report every single week for our weekly labs. Though the labs ranged vastly throughout the 4 years, there was always something to take away from each. Even though most of the labs had an expected result, it was still very interesting to physically make these results happen in a lab setting. We can always read about a subject through books or textbooks, but information tends to last longer when learning is more hands on. A 2009 study conducted by researchers at Purdue University found that middle school students who were taught about human impact on water quality through a hands-on learning method showed high comprehensions of the concept as opposed to only learning through textbook and lecture method.

I believe this is not only something that can be implemented in a science course. For example, it is possible to go on a field trip to a history museum for a history course. In particular, I remember a specific class that focused on the founding of the United States which took a more hands-on approach. Half of the class were designated as “nationalists” while the other half were designated as “patriots” and we had a class debate with each side arguing for their ideas and opinions. This was a very effective way of learning the topic because each student was extremely engaged in the debate and it made the topic a fun one.

Blog Entry 2

I think the purpose of doing labs with expected results in schools is twofold. Firstly, doing labs get students acquainted with lab equipment and how to properly use these tools. This way if students plans to work at a research facility and help in studies where the results are not known ahead of time, they will know how to handle the tasks they are given. Furthermore if a student wishes to be leading research studies in the future its important that they have thorough knowledge of what can be done in the lab and how to do it.  Secondly, doing labs help affirm what the student may be learning in lecture. Its one thing to be told that a certain reaction produces gas and another thing altogether to perform the reaction and see bubbles form.  This makes passive knowledge into active knowledge. I think a lab in a non-specialist science class like ours isn’t as helpful for students who wont need lab skills in the future but it still helps us understand the material we are learning in class. I think the equivalent of a lab in a history or english class is a presentation. I think a presentation helps students gain skills they will need outside of class and it requires them to actively research a topic and understand it on their own.

Blog Entry 2: Thinking About Lab

Performing laboratory experiments in school is extremely important in fortifying the understanding of the scientific process and appreciating the rigor it requires. In addition to fostering a scientific mind, laboratory experiments introduce some basic concepts, materials, and reasoning employed, which can be the starting point to scientific creativity.

To elaborate on the second point, although laboratory experiments are certainly structured and are performed in heavily controlled environments, they act more than just a set of instructions to be completed in order to produce an expected result. Laboratory experiments also teach and inspire in learn-through-example manner. For example, physics experiments in school are often repetitions of experiments performed centuries ago to prove or uncover laws or values that we take for granted today. The formula for torque, the magnitude of gravity on the surface of the earth, and the diameter of earth can be calculated with an outstanding degree of accuracy with very basic materials. The same can be said for any science. For instance, many chemistry experiments can be safely performed by students, yielding the very same outcome: demonstrating to students what can be done, proven, or calculated with a scientific mind, creativity, and (not always fancy) materials. These laboratory experiments demonstrate to students their potential, and stir up excitement especially for younger students. If a middle-schooler can calculate the mass of the earth, then what can’t he or she do? Thus, laboratory experiments are pedagogically useful, not because of the direct result or conclusion that they yield, but because they demonstrate examples of what can be done, and encourage creativity by example.

Whether laboratory experiments are necessary for a course like ours is a complex question to answer. On the one hand, all that I have aforementioned applies and points demonstrates the benefit a lab brings to the course. On the other hand, I assume every student in the course has performed experiments in school for years, and therefore the two additional labs in this course are subjected to the law of diminishing returns, minimizing their benefit. For that reason, I do not believe a laboratory experiment is necessary for this course as it provides very little pedagogical benefit, although it can be easily argued that it does foster fascination for the material.

From this laboratory experiment, I hope to gain mostly the experience and knowledge of how to create aspirin. I would also experience the reactions of the experiment first hand, such as visualizing the cristallisation of the aspirin for the first time.

Although this lab is very scientific as it is based heavily in chemistry, it’s difficult to imagine what a lab in a non-science course would ressemble. Perhaps the lab for history or literature course would be placing yourself in the situation of a writer or a general in a time of war and analyzing the situation from their point of view. Would this fulfill the same role as a science laboratory experiment? It certainly might promote creativity and fascination for the material, but I’m not certain it would be as effective as there would need to be an initial fascination to get the ball rolling, so to speak. Science labs also focus heavily on factual evidence and scientific rigor, where as I would imagine non-science labs allow for more creative expression and flexibility.

The style of academic writing for a lab report also differs from the writing employed in an English or history class. The reason for the difference is that lab report writing style is meant to accurately, clearly, and efficiently convey information. The beauty of the style is irrelevant, as the content is the most important aspect of the lab, and any beauty in the delivery style of that content does not contribute any benefit. That is why the style of academic writing differs between the subjects, and why it is perfectly acceptable for lab reports to be dry and tedious.

Blog Entry 2

The purpose of doing a lab in school is to have a hands on experience of the things we read about and how they work. It is useful that a lab is in a controlled environment with an expected result because it gives you the ability to know that you performed the lab correctly. Furthermore, if you did perform the lab incorrectly it gives you steps to take to redo the lab to find out where you went wrong. I don’t feel like labs are necessary for non specialist science courses because we’re more getting an overview of the topic rather than performing it in a sense, however, it is still useful in allowing us to see the practical side of that topic. From this lab experience I hope to be able to see the chemicals reacting and the different procedures and overall I just hope to see the process of creating a drug. A lab in a non science course would be any practical experience for example in a Law class it would be a case study, or in history maybe an archaeological hunt, some sort of hands on experience. You can’t use the same style of writing in a lab as you would in other types of writing because the specific sections serve different purpose in the lab and as such need to be divided up and written about separately.

Blog Entry 2 – Labs

In highschool I was never a big fan of labs because I did not find them clear. We would always rush through the experiment and then take it home to finish the rest and come up with a report. When I got to college, however, I found that the huge amount of class time dedicated to the labs is a huge help in understanding the lab. I have had many assignments that are made so much clearer after learning about it in lecture or reading about it in my textbook after conducting an experiment that demonstrates it in lab. This, in my opinion, is the purpose of these labs. By having hands on activities not only are we more confident in our abilities as scientists but we are more likely to remember what we are learning. Furthermore, you can apply this same justification for having “labs” in other classes. In a history class you are more likely to remember what happened if you were to act out a historic event. Even if we do know what our results should be, by comparing with neighboring groups you can analyze where you went wrong or what causes differences in results. Each experiment will be a bit different every time it is performed. Then, when you go home and write a lab report (instead of learning for the first time–which is what I did in high school), I am able to just sum up the results of the experiment and refresh my memory. The reason you have to use different language in a science report is that you have to make everything as clear as possible, and ideally your experiment should be reproducible by another scientist just from looking at your report. This may lead to confusion if certain terminology or cultural phrases were included in the report.

Why lab why now?

I think we should do a lab in school to become familiar with the scientific process. It’s one thing to learn about what science is from a detached, academic perspective – and quite another to experience it hands on. Even though when we do entry-level experiments in the lab we are following a rigid procedure which we expect to yield pre-determined results, this is useful firsthand experience. Only after doing “repeat” experiments will we understand how to design and carry out new experiments.

Personally, I’m hoping to actually visit and try out the equipment in the Baruch science department for the first time. Since I got credit for AP Bio and AP Psychology in high school I don’t need to take science in college. Although this is a timesaver, I feel like I am missing out on the authentic lab experience which most of my peers will have. Visiting the lab this week may make up for what I have been missing.

Of course, lab is a component to the course meant to prove kinesthetically that the information being taught is true and relevant. I think that a trip to an art museum, stock exchange, or historical site would fill the same role in another course.

Naturally, the style of writing for a lab report will differ from the style of writing used to write an English paper or history essay. Because science is fact and theory based, there is no room for the experimenter’s opinions and feelings. However, since English and history are more open to the individual’s interpretation of literature and/or events, the author should insert the “I” into his/her writing.

« Older posts