We brought Unit 1 to a close by revisiting the Golden Ratio. Students were introduced to the concept of “respectful scientific discourse” and practiced sharing their thoughts about whether the Golden Ratio should be considered science or pseudoscience. Students practiced discourse in groups of 4 multiple times throughout the period. Between group discussions, we revisited the Golden Ratio. Students re-watched a segment of the first video (below) and we discussed the effect of the video production (music, narration, images) on their perception of the Golden Ratio as science or pseudoscience. Students were reminded of the Bill Nye video we watched where they learned that practitioners of pseudoscience often play on our senses and our emotions to try and earn our trust (and our money!). We then watched a video by Hank Green (SciShow), where the Golden Ratio is presented in a style that might be seen as more credible than the first video. We concluded the lesson either by watching video segments by Vi Hart (see the September 21 post), or more comprehensibly for the students, through an artistic representation by the teacher, of how the Golden Ratio manifests in plant growth through the actions of hormones. As our understanding of plant hormones and genetics grows, it would appear the Golden Ratio is in fact firmly grounded in science, as least with respect to plants.
Final Model – Teacher Drawing
The plan this week is to wrap up Unit 1: Nature of Science, and transition to Unit 2: Ecology and Systems Biology. We began Unit 1 with the Milk Lab, and tomorrow we will take some time to revisit the results observed across my 5 classes. Students will work in small groups to devise strategies to organize the results. Students will also receive an explanation about why the food coloring swirled the way that it did after addition of soap to the various types of milk tested. If time permits, we will also practice a few simple unit conversion math problems to help students develop the skills needed to complete the math worksheet from last Tuesday.
The reason for this weekend post is actually to give interested students a chance to preview a few videos before Tuesday. In that lesson, we will practice “respectful scientific discourse” in the context of a class debate around the Golden Ratio. Students learned about the Golden Ratio from a video we watched in class, and in lessons the following two days, we watched additional videos which presented the concept of pseudoscience. The sequencing of these lessons was intentional, and many students seem to agree that the Golden Ratio can be viewed as pseudoscience. On Tuesday, students will watch another video that explains the Golden Ratio in a different light. In the video, the presenter refers viewers to a series of videos by Vi Hart. I strongly encourage students to take the time to watch these videos. She speaks quickly, but the content is fascinating and just might make you question your position on the Golden Ratio.
The lesson today focused on using a ruler to measure lines using centimeters and millimeters. During the first half of the lesson, students used index cards and a leveling device to level their desks. Many of our classroom desks have uneven legs, so students placed stacks of index cards under the desk legs to make them level. Students then had the option of using a level, a level app on their phone, or a marble to determine when their desk was level. Once the desk was level, students made a table in their lab notebooks and reported the number of index cards under each table leg, as well as the thickness of each index card stack in millimeters. During the second part of class, students watched a brief video on the Golden Ratio. Students then practiced measuring the distance between facial features (first on a worksheet and then on their partner) and calculated the ratios of the distances to determine how their data compared with the Golden Ratio. Tomorrow we debate whether the Golden Ratio should be considered science or pseudoscience.