A teachable moment

The crash of both the Virgin Galactic space craft during a trial flight and the crash of the unmanned rocket that was to resupply the International Space Station last week provided a teachable moment during a stoichiometry lesson and authentic connections to the nature of science, international mindedness and ToK thinking.

Mars_Climate_Orbiter_2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter

The students reviewed the goals of the IUPAC organization http://www.iupac.org/home/about.html and read an article about the crash of the Mars climate orbiter probe in 1999 because of miscommunication over units. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17350-nasa-criticised-for-sticking-to-imperial-units.html

We then discussed the following prompts

To what extent is international communication and collaboration between scientists important and what are the implications when the language used by scientists varies.

Ludwig Wittgenstein said “The limits of my language stand for the limits of my world”. Discuss with respect to the language used by scientists and IB Chemistry students.

The open ended nature of the prompts and the authentic context provided an opportunity for thinking that resulted in a rich and intellectually engaging discussion. One of the discussion points centered on the problems with communication between scientists working on international teams and the important role of organizations likes IUPAC and ISO in providing a common language for communicating concepts, terms and conventions.

. . .  wonderful infographics on language http://www.vox.com/2014/11/17/7082317/language-maps-charts

Connections NOTES
Chemistry syllabus & cross curricular links Topic 1. StoichiometryTopic 11. Measurement
Nature of Science 4. The human face of science.
Learner Profile Inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers
International-mindedness “As a result of collaboration between seven international, including IUPAC, the International Standards Organization (ISO) published the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement in 1995. This has been widely adopted in most countries and has been translated into several different languages.” (IBO, Chemistry Guide p.72)
IB Approaches to Teaching Conceptually focused, collaborative, contextualized.
IB Approaches to Learning Thinking skills
Theory of Knowledge How knowledge is constructed in the academic discipline of science, and how it is critically examined.Responding to knowledge questionsLanguage as a way of knowing. How language is used to produce scientific knowledge. How language is used to communicate key concepts, terms and conventions.

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