How to Attack Your Students

Well, we had our 1st Physical Science Field Trip, to which I sadly forgot to bring a camera to, so no pics...But we got to see the local Meteorology Institute. They do weather predictions and long-term climate analysis, and are the premier institue in the country. They were pretty advanced there- big vancy building, with lots of large computers, doing many billions of calcultions per second. There was a room where you could observe the scientists hard at work inside with complex computer diagrams, kind of like a zoo. I fully expected a sign "Don't Feed the Scientists". There was a sign in French that had a cigarette crossed out, and something that looked like nothing less than a marijuana leaf in it's place...We weren't quite sure what to make of that. They also had a lot of meteorology tools they had on display outside- not the ones they regularly use but rather the ones they have for all the tours that come through. The instruments they use are in the adjoining small airport.

If it sounds like my description is disturbingly lacking in science for a science teacher, that would be because it seems they somewhat forgot we were coming yesterday. And the guy who was going to translate for us, who used to work there, also did not show up. So the entire time it was in French, of which I speak walloo. (That's Dareeja Arabic for none.) So the exercise in review for the students on the bus ride back was telling me what they learned. I told them to pretend I hadn't understood a thing...I did learn that they claimed at the Institute that the guy who found the Ozone hole was a Moroccan. I have been unable to independetly verify that on the internet.

Speaking of students, I'm quite proud to report that I've recently taken to yelling at them and throwing large objects at them. Had a student a couple weeks back hiccuping constantly in class. She wouldn't stop. I waited till all was quite as they studied for the upcoming test, and then yelled out, "Zineb!". Quite loudly. For which she thanked me, as the hiccups had completely stopped. Always good when a student thanks you for yelling at them.

In another case, I've had a number of students confused of late as to what science is, as they have received a lot of misinformation lately on the subject. So in one class a student was basically saying that there was no way we could trust science. It was all opinions, theories, and not facts, and constantly changing. I explained again (as I had thought was understood at the beginning of the school year, before they heard otherwise) that theories are facts in science- just better than facts as they explain how a large number of facts work together. Although we always expect that things can change in the future once we get more information, we are always open-minded, we hold to what the current evidence states as a fact. They were still unconvinced, and a few others joined in the argument, saying we can't be sure of what is said in science, for the evidence can deceive. It being a science class and not one of existentialism (a philosophical school I greatly respect) I finally picked up a large book and threw it at the student. "Why'd you duck?" I asked. They got the message of the Flying Object Lesson. (To be fair, I didn't want to risk the student not ducking, so I threw it not directly at the student.) Scientific principles are based on evidence, which we rely on in order to trust anything in this world- even if it's a scientific principle that we accept as a matter of course, like projectile motion and gravity.


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