iWonder: Science ed research to practice

“We are a way for the universe to know itself”—Carl Sagan. Image ©punyamishra License: CC-BY-NC.

iWonder: Rediscovering School Science is a journal of science education focusing on middle school science teachers, published by the Azim Premji University. I have been (with a series of co-authors) publishing a series under the rubric of Research to Practice for this journal. These articles and their abstracts (with links to the PDFs) are listed below. 

Incidentally, I create all the illustrations that go with the articles. It started just as a lark when we were doing the first article and then it seemed too much fun to stop. Some of the illustrations I have created can be found on this page. Enjoy.

Connecting across scales of beauty. From the grandeur of the cosmos to the intricacies of sub-atomic particles, beauty is all around us. These infinities (of the very small and the very large) are bridged by the human intellect—the beauty of mathematics at work. Image ©punyamishra License: CC-BY-NC.?

Abstract: This article explores the role of beauty in science education. The authors use research in science education to highlight the importance of teachers consciously making connections to aesthetic aspects in science. Caring about beauty in science can inspire a sense of wonder and curiosity among students.

The dove with an olive branch, a symbol of peace. Made from icons representative of science, flies against a word-cloud created from all the words in the Wikipedia page on “Social Justice.” Image ©punyamishra License: CC-BY-NC.

Abstract: This article explores the need for social justice teaching in science education, and what it can accomplish, especially for students who come from communities that have been excluded from science learning and careers. It also presents important lessons learned from one case of science teaching for social justice.

The seduction of using single metaphors: using just one representation reduces the complexity of a rich idea. Inspired by Variante de la tristesse by Rene Magritte. Image ©punyamishra License: CC-BY-NC.?

Abstract: As educators, we need to know that new learning is constrained and framed by our prior knowledge. Metaphors offer one way to harness this to our advantage. In this article we focus on a strategy of using multiple metaphors to explain complex scientific ideas, grounding our discussion in one specific example — that of teaching about energy.

Learning is least useful when it is private and hidden, it is most powerful when it becomes public and communal (Lee Shulman). Image ©punyamishra License: CC-BY-NC.

Abstract: This article explores peer instruction in the science classroom. The authors use research in science education to illustrate, practically, how teachers can work with their students to increase learning using peer instruction.

Relating linear and angular motion. Photo of dancers overlaid with equations comparing linear and angular motion. Photo and illustration ©punyamishra. License CC-BY-NC

Abstract: Embodied design for learning presents several unique challenges to the ways we conceptualize thinking and learning. For science teachers, embodied design highlights the role of physical movement in how our students interact with important scientific ideas and processes. Embodied design presents opportunities for us to rethink our science teaching practices. In many ways, it offers us a pedagogy that recasts learning as a more complete, complex and human activity.

When the collision of train and car is discussed in the context of Newton’s third law, students usually imagine the scenario based on their experiences. Credits: Image by Akshayapatra Foundation on Pixabay (URL: https://pixabay.com/photos/children-infant-girl-school-306607/; License: CC0). Illustration and design by Punya Mishra. License CC-BY-NC.

Abstract: Students can sometimes perceive scientific ideas to be in conflict with their common sense. How do we approach such conflicts in the classroom? Do we see these commonsense ideas as being wrong or, at best, misconceived? Alternatively, do we see them as resources and assets essential for the development of true understanding? In this article KK Mashood and I explore what these questions mean for the science classroom.