In the video above, a third grader gets to use a rather striking example of 21st century technology to talk about some common topics in science, namely earthquakes and volcanoes.
As was mentioned in this blog before, back at the 2009 National Science Teachers Association’s national conference, Arne Duncan mentioned in his keynote that, “You need to challenge yourselves and each other to move the curriculum beyond dinosaurs and volcanoes…”
I didn’t get the feeling that Duncan thinks we should not teach about dinosaurs and volcanoes, but instead teach about them and then beyond them. Frankly, if kids could grasp the actual science behind dinosaurs and volcanoes, they would be far ahead given all of the amazing science associated with volcanoes and dinosaurs. Sadly, most lessons in these areas usually focus on lower level (knowledge, comprehension, etc.) “facts” which are easy to assess with multiple choice instruments, yet allow little knowledge power beyond pointing and naming.
“..a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.”
– Henri Poincar
As I watched the video, I was encouraged by the pauses as the student studied the imagery on the globe. He is not reciting anything, but interpreting what he sees which in my book is at the highest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. In other words, complex scientific images are presented in a spherical (authentic) representation of the earth which in turn are then cognitively analyzed (separated into pieces) by the student, then reassembled (synthesis) into a reasonably coherent explanation of the relationship between the pieces (remember, this student is only 9 years old) .
A few things to keep in mind: 1) the sea floor is visible here, but in real life it is not; 2) the images are in false color; 3) his sister is selecting and moving different images of which the student does not always know what is next; 4) the globe is bigger (60-inch diameter) than the student so he cannot even see half the globe from his perspective; 5) the colors change and the oceans and continents switch between positive and negative space projections; and 6) the student is able to adapt to the images “on the fly” meaning he understands not only the individual concepts but their relationship to each other.