Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How is science really done?

Step 1: recognize and describe a problem.
Step 2: form a hypothesis
...

That's the way we would all like it to be done, by following a simple and clear 6 step recipe.  However, the truth is far messier.  Scientific American has an article of value to all but specifically for elementary school science  teachers.

"We are teaching the scientific method too simplistically," says Judy Scotchmoor, of the University of California Museum of Paleontology at Berkeley, where she develops tools for training STEM teachers. An overemphasis on rote learning and an under-emphasis on critical thinking yield students who lack an interest in science. She quoted surprising statistics showing that the longer students study science, the more negatively they view it.
To replace the linear approach to teaching the scientific method, Scotchmoor designed a flow chart, which Stefanski has implemented in his classes, that shows the messiness of scientific inquiry, with arrows running in multiple directions among several steps: exploration and discovery, testing ideas, benefits and outcomes, community analysis and feedback. She's had a number of working scientists diagram their own discoveries on her flow chart and post them on the Web as examples. Her goal is to show that "science is dynamic and creative and far from linear."

If the link in the quote doesn't work, here is the flow chart.  The articles describe these enigmatic tubes.

Creating for 100 days and more and less

For a design class, students were asked to design or make something for 100 consecutive days:
From KottkeFor the past five years, Michael Bierut has taught a class for aspiring designers where students have to record the results of "a design operation that [they] are capable of repeating every day" for 100 straight days.
From the Observer's Room:

Beginning Thursday, October 21, 2010, do a design operation that you are capable of repeating every day. Do it every day between today and up to and including Friday, January 28, 2011, the last day of the project, by which time you will have done the operation one hundred times. That afternoon, each student will have up to 15 minutes to present his or her one-hundred part project to the class. 
The only restrictions on the operation you choose is that it must be repeated in some form every day, and that every iteration must be documented for eventual presentation. The medium is open, as is the final form of the presentation on the 100th day. 
Does this sound like fun? I'm not sure. But some years, up to two dozen students start the assignment. And some years, more than half drop out before the end. Everyone starts with high hopes. But things get repetitive by day ten. By day twenty, no matter what you've decided to do, it feels like you've been doing it forever. And bridging the end-of-year break is always a big challenge. But the students who get past day thirty or forty tend to get in a groove that will take them through to the end. Here's a sampling of what's been done through the years, including some of my favorites.

I have fallen into a rut of describing creativity and not being creative myself.  Perhaps I need to set goals like this.

Or perhaps I should look at one month:

30 Days of Creativity was a social initiative encouraging people to create stuff, anything, every day for 30 days in June 2010 by folks in the Minneapolis creative community. 
Your brain is a muscle. When you exercise it, it gets stronger.
I WANT TO CREATE TOO:
Don’t put it off! Create stuff now! Follow #30daysofcreativity on Twitter. Make your pledge above to create. 
CREATE STUFF:
This is your excuse to buy that tub of Playdoh, unbox your Erector set, or dust off your Holga. You might be working on one huge project for 30 days straight. Maybe you are creating something new thing every day. (That’s the best way to participate!) It could be as simple as taking a picture of your outfit for 30 days to something as involved as a writing a song or making a movie every day


I can't tell if the owners of this website are organizing a similar thing or if it is an advertisement for a management and motivational speaker.  The spelling of international in the website's title is creative, at least.

At least two people have chosen to blog about 2011 as their Year of Creativity.

Belle Wong says:

2011 is my year of creativity.
I’ve missed being creative. Last year, I added writing back into my life, and it has been a very joyful experience. But there’s more to what I want out of life than the writing. There are a lot of things that interest me, and this year, I’m giving myself permission to enjoy exploring and playing with all the things that catch my fancy.
So this means:
More writing...
More art... 
More reading...  

For Jody Wright, the goal is to do more with her free time and feel like a kid again:
One of the main motivators for taking a break from training this year was that I was getting sick of seeing the same non-triathlon goals on my life list year after year, and never doing anything proactive towards achieving them. It took me a while to accept the fact that it just wasn’t realistic to seriously take on any new hobby – such as practicing photography, playing guitar, taking a pottery class, learning to sail, getting additional scuba diving certifications, or learning web design skills – “off the side of my bike”, as it were. Now that I have made the leap, everyday is full of new and exciting opportunities for learning and creative expression. I am LOVING being a beginner again it’s incredibly fulfilling to be taking on some of these goals I’ve been dreaming about for over 10 years.


--------------------
I have been too long on this blog a reporter of creativity and not much of a producer or a creator.  I am not ready at this instant to set a goal in this regard but but I can promise to set one by the end of this week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

drawing a bike from memory

I'm at my mother's computer and am using that as my excuse for not drawing a bike.  Still, if you want to, this website is asking for submissions.

Part of the rationale for asking for these drawing is to see if people understand how bikes work.

“… The bicycle drawing test is mostly testing how effectively your casual observation skills translate to memory and later recall. Just having good hand-eye coordination won’t be any advantage unless you are looking at the bike and trying to draw it.
I believe that what this test really reveals is that our memories are highly edited versions of the truth. The brain constantly simplifies the objects in our daily lives to symbolic representations that are easier to remember.”
What i like about the pictures are the extraneous details.  I would have simply drawn the bare bones of the bike, but some of the featured photos show bikes in use, with riders and backgrounds.  The pictures change from architectural practice to emotion-laden objects.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

teaching yourself to harness the wind

A boy in Malawi who was unable to attend school taught himself how to read and then read a book about wind turbines.  This interested him so much that he built his own electrical generator to power a few lights and radios in his hut.  Neighbors jeered until the setup worked.
The book.  Via Boingboing which had this to say:
Undaunted by poverty or the famines that affected his country, William taught himself by studying the books in the library of an elementary school in his village. In 2002, when he was 14 years old, he went to the library to find out what the English word "grapes" meant and he stumbled across a science book for elementary school students called Using Energy. William says that finding this book was the trigger that changed the course of his life.
He had a difficult time reading the book, but he pored over its diagrams for motors and generators, and eventually came up with the idea of building an electricity-generating wind turbine. His village did not have electricity (in fact, only 2% of Malawi receives electricity service, and that service is very spotty), and he dreamed of being able to read at night in his house....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jason renshaw on creativity and teaching ESL

He was interviewed by TEFL.net.  Here's an excerpt and follow the link for more.
I guess I have always been full of ideas, and I think that can be traced to five aspects of my childhood:
1. Growing up without much in the way of TV or video games.
2. Being crazy about Lego from a very young age (and never all that interested in making the model on the box cover – always wanted to make new stuff!).
3. Spending my formative teenage years in a tiny rural town in Victoria, where to have fun you needed to be creative!
4. Being an avid reader and story-writer all the way through school.
5. Being a regular player (and later gamemaster and materials writer) of adventure role-playing games.
Other than that, I think I’ve been heavily influenced by my father in terms of always doing a job to the best of your ability, including being willing to challenge authority or the “done thing” when and where necessary. I had a range of different jobs (everything from supermarket work to managing pubs and even tourism marketing) before getting seriously into teaching, which gave me a good wide perspective about living and working, but also gave me chances to be creative in roles one might otherwise assume were boring or without much scope for thinking outside the box. I also went to one of Australia’s most prestigious universities and found it awfully stuffy… I think rebellion is a natural part of a lot of the creativity we see in people!

via his own blog.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Science Fiction Writing workshop in March

Starship Sof, which has an excellent podcast, is offering an online workshop for science fiction writers and wannabes.
From the website:

What will be covered in this workshop
  • The Beginning - Gregory Frost
  • Plot Tricks from the Dark Side - James Patrick Kelly
  • How To Fix Your Story After It's Written and You Discover That It Doesn't Work - Michael Swanwick
  • Why Writing Groups - Mercurio D. Rivera
  • What An Editor Wants - Sheila Williams
  • Question And Answers - All

Via Boingboing


Updated later:
Also from Boingboing, a Science Fiction writing workshop for teens, although this one appears to be in physical space.
Learn about writing and publishing. Meet other teens who share your interest in writing speculative fiction. Talk about short stories, novels, and films. Have your submission story critiqued. Brainstorm new story ideas, write a first draft, receive feedback, and rewrite. Attend readings by the authors. Do a public reading. Learn about submitting for publication, and send off your story at our manuscript mailing party...