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August 30, 2006

Space & Art

Just heard about the Roundhouse's 'Space Soon' programme, and the Taking Control - Spaceflight For Humans symposium: "In this 2-day symposium, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs discuss the future of space exploration from the human perspective." could be interesting… 

August 28, 2006

Telling Science: the D-N model & narrative structure

When I say my research looks at science stories people are often surprised. Sometimes shocked: "but how could the children tell the fact from the fiction, wouldn't science stories just confuse?". Personally, I think views like this are simplistic nonsense.

There are several arguments I have in defense of the story as a tool for science education. Without getting into a whole quarter of my thesis, now I want to overview just one of my arguments for science storytelling, and discuss the proposition that stories have a "logic" which particularly suit communication of scientific ideas.

Fritz Kubli, in a rare article applying theories of narrative to science education*, emphasises the German world for storytelling has the same route as counting, arguing that the story has a very logically put together plot. This plotting is something which happens in science, although it tend to go under different rubric ( e.g. the deductive nomological model).

A children's science story I have done a reasonable amount of research on is Russell Stannard's Uncle Albert and the Quantum Quest, a tale of a little girl who goes on adventures within the world of the very very small to learn about quantum physics. In this Stannard chooses to give us first the atom, then the nucleus and electrons, then quarks, then their strange behaviour. Going straight to the uncertainty principle would appear to come out of nowhere, but with Stannard's story we are first introduced to entities to provide "logical" reasoning behind it.

We meet x then are told y, thus z must be true.

As anti-realists might be fast to point out, logic does not necessarily make something true, but it can give the persuasive appearance of it.

There are stories, and forms of science for that matter, that do not suit this. They invert common ideas of narrative structure or eschew logical reasoning as a route to knowledge. But I think this is one way in which we can see science and the story fitting together quite well.

There is, within this, Hayden White's problem of emplotment. But I'm going to leave that for now.

*reference: Kubli, F (2001) Can the Theory of Narratives Help Teachers be Better Storytellers? Science & Education, vol. 10: 595-599

August 22, 2006

The project begins…

Welcome to The Science Project, where we plan to discuss things related to any or all of the following: books, new media, children, and science and technology (in no particular order).

We are a multi-disciplinary group, working in the fields of science communication, design and typography, and children's literature. This blog is a convergence point for discussing contemporary science/youth-related topics beyond the confines of academic or professional boundaries.

Comments are most welcome! and if you have an idea for a post, please get in touch and we can either guest-post it, or, if you are keen, you could join us as a contributor. Look forward to hearing from you.