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Smithsonian Launches Web Series to Provide Science Teaching PD Opportunities

Center Launches Web Series to Provide Professional Development Opportunities in Teaching Science

The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) has launched “Good Thinking! The Science of Teaching Science” web series, a free animated series that provides professional development opportunities for science teachers to best instruct scientific principles through exposing common student misconceptions.

"A first-of-its-kind series, 'Good Thinking!' comprises short, animated videos that explore pedagogical ideas across a range of subject-matter topics like energy, cells and gravity, as well as cognitive research findings on topics such as student motivation, or the myth of left- and right-brained people," said SSEC in a statement.

The series focuses around a fictional, diverse classroom taught by instructor Ms. Reyes.

"Some episodes explore specific topics, such as natural selection, while others take a more theoretical approach by discussing the ways in which students think and process information," said

The series covers many topics and not only deals with exposing misconceptions in teaching science, but also providing the best strategies and resources for teaching lessons.

For instance, the episode available on natural selection explores "some common misconceptions and misunderstandings around natural selection. The episode focuses on anchoring student knowledge in observable phenomenon that are at the heart of natural selection. For example: the observation that within a population there are slight variations among individual organisms," according to Marjee Chmiel, Associate Director of Curriculum and Communications for Smithsonian Institution.

The series is the product of a team of experts, both science and education writers as well as entertainment and animation writers, according to the series Project Lead Jean Flanagan. 

The concept of the series is based on research that supports the idea that "'content explainer' videos are less effective at teaching new concepts than 'dialogue' or 'refutation' videos, which explicitly include and address common student misconceptions or perspectives and work through why those ideas are inaccurate or need refining," Flanagan said in her post.

As of right now, there are three episodes available for viewing that cover conceptual change, common misconceptions of natural selection, and the misconception of learning styles; there are many more topics to be covered in future episodes.

"We look forward to receiving feedback and hope to have the opportunity to refine our process and develop more episodes – the list of important topics and useful findings is always growing!" Flanagan said.


View the more episodes in the "Good Thinking! The Science of Teaching Science" series here and provide your thoughts in the comment section below.


Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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