When knowledge is wrong…

Babies are born knowing physics. They express surprise when an object appears to be suspended in mid-air or pass through walls (nice article here). These are the primitive physics schemas we are all born with. Onto these, we add experiences from our lives: metals are cold; batteries run out of charge; the sun moves. Then in physics lessons we try to supplant this knowledge with formalised knowledge. With mixed results.


A metal cup to keep drinks cold.

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Sir Isaac Newton

Definitio. I.

Quantitas materiæ est mensura ejusdem orta ex illius densitate et magnitudine conjunctim.

Definition I

The quantity of matter is the measure of the same, arising from its density and bulk conjunctly.

                        (Newton, translation by Motte)

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An Accretion of Science Writers

Thirty science writers and teachers who write have formed a group to support and promote brilliant science writing for children and young adults.

Science writing for young people should inspire as well as teach; it must be map and guide. Young people need to be free to explore the universe through words. The writing must be very good.

This takes technical expertise; literary skill and an understanding of children’s learning. Our science writers’ circle brings writers together to share these skills to write outstanding science texts.

We meet online with a forum for sharing, discussion and feedback. We are a community with a common goal: brilliant science writing for young people.

The group is called the science writers’ circle and we are one week old. Watch this space.


I Asked 100 Scientists…. My Royal Society of Chemistry Blog

The amount of time spent reading by scientists and engineers and who taught them.

The amount of time spent reading by scientists and engineers and who taught them.

I wanted to know how scientists and engineers learnt to read professional texts, so I asked some. 100 professional scientists and engineers responded. The Royal Society of Chemistry asked me to write a blog about the results and here it is.

Many thanks to David Sait (@RSC_EIC) and the editing team at Education in Chemistry.

High-quality textbooks won’t work without high-quality textbook reading.

sci text bookLast Thursday (11th June), Nick Gibb delivered a speech titled the social justice case for an academic curriculum. As a science teacher interested in reading, my attention focussed in on the quote below: Continue reading

Of The Cells and Pores of Frothy Bodies

Cells extract from Micrographia

Cells extract from Micrographia

Science is a practical subject. It is also a literary subject. Reading science texts is important. It is the key to a scientific career and should have equal status to practical work in school’s curricula. It doesn’t. I have taught children about cells for twenty years, but until recently, I had never read Hooke’s account of his discovery. I also haven’t read Newton’s Principia and I’ve got a physics degree. There, I’ve said it. It’s as though I’ve only read the York Notes and not the novel.

My last blog was about adapting older texts for use in schools (here). I used a travel journal extract by Mary Kingsley, a Victorian scientific traveller. It is an engaging text full of adventure, charm and bravery. Children enjoy it. I have written about adapting Origin of Species (here): an ongoing project.  Continue reading