Home' Teacher : May 2010 Contents LOOKING INTO PRACTICE 21
triggers that led to particular developments
in atomic theory.
The following week I was away on Year
12 retreat. I left the timeline task for my stu-
dents to complete while I was gone. When I
returned, I was amazed, and very pleased,
to find out that the students had been really
keen to do the task. In fact, there was almost
a competition to see who could find the
greatest number of events that linked to the
development of atomic theory.
Each class member managed to submit a
timeline that met the criteria of matching world
events to aspects of scientific development.
One of my concerns with the task was
that I mightn't be able to discern the level of
understanding that students had developed
about the links when I was assessing their
work. To my surprise, and relief, this wasn't
the case. The students who had developed
an in-depth understanding of what was
required were able to identify the differ-
ence between events of world significance
that needed to be included in the timeline
and those that were only significant to a par-
ticular region or country of the world and
therefore of less importance in contributing
to overall scientific development.
On reflection, I've gained some valuable
insights through this experience into the
relationship between teaching and learn-
ing science. Students do have an interest in
real-world science, but it doesn't necessarily
come from the same place as my interest in
It's up to me to tap into students' inter-
ests and find motivating ways to do this.
The links that I've always imagined exist
between different subject areas aren't clear
and obvious for everyone. Just because a
student studies History doesn't mean they'll
link what they've done in that subject to
what we're doing in Chemistry: I need to
include ways to make the links.
I don't claim that the timeline activity
has necessarily made my students sud-
denly more aware of the place science has
in the world, but I do believe it's made them
aware that a lot of scientific development
has been driven by social, economic and
What we as teachers need to remember
is that our job isn't to change students to
our way of thinking, but to change our way
of teaching so that it builds from our stu-
dents' interests. T
* For your atomic timeline, Pierre and
Marie Curie are referred to in episode seven ,
'Marge Gets a Job,' in the fourth season of
The Simpsons, where Bart has a fantasy
involving a radioactive Marie and Pierre
Curie and Lisa claims -- gasp, wrongly --
that they both died of radiation poisoning.
Marie died from aplastic anaemia , as a
result of exposure to radiation, but Pierre
was run over by a horse -drawn vehicle.
Dianne Lodge teaches at St Aloysius
College, a Catholic secondary school for
girls in North Melbourne.
A version of this article first appeared in
Looking into Practice: Cases of Science
teachers' professional growth, published by
Mon ash Print Se rvices/Catholic Education
Office, Melbourne, as part of the Com-
monwealth gover nment's Quality Teache r
Program. Reproduced with kind pe rmis-
sion. For the full set of ca ses on which
this series draws, see Berry, A. , & Keast,
S. (Eds). (2009). Looking into Practice:
Cases of Science teachers' professional
growth Melbourne: Monash Print Ser vices/
Catholic Education Office, Melbourne.
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