February 16, 2005

by Reb Yudel
Science Fairly Innumerate

Last night was the Last Middle School Science Fair -- at least at Ms. Eighth Grade's current school.

Not a year too soon, I might say, because I'm not sure I can stand the rampant innumeracy that passes for experimentation.

Yes, they learn the classic scientific method of hypothesis-experiment-conclusion-fancy writeup designed to coverup a multitidue of methodological flaws. Wait, that's the Bush method. Too bad they don't learn anything about statistics or about controlling for other variables. Lots of psychological research (does breakfast help kids learn more) whose possible conclusions are lost in a fog of bad data. Only a small handful of exhibits showing something real enough about science (electricity, magnetism, killing e-coli) to explain to the Four Year Old.

Given that everyone presumably has Excel, or at least a calculator, is there a reason not to learn about standard deviations in middle school?

In any event, to end on a positive note, here's some useful science that you can try at home... and we probably will:

How to Extract DNA from Anything Living

DNA! You mean I can see it? How?

Just follow these 3 easy steps:
Detergent
eNzymes (meat tenderizer)
Alcohol

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Comments
#1

WOW!

Posted by: Nostradamus at February 17, 2005 2:41 PM
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