I have used several PROFILES modules in my teaching. Here I am going to describe briefly how I used one of them in my class. When teaching acids in chemistry, I decided to include a PROFILES module titled “Coca Cola – myths and reality“.
“PROFILES“ is the acronym for “Professional Reflection-Oriented Focus on Inquiry-based Learning and Education through Science”. PROFILES promotes IBSE through raising the self-efficacy of science teachers to take ownership of more effective ways of teaching students. The intended outcome is school science teaching becoming more meaningful, related to 21st century science and incorporating interdisciplinary socio-scientific issues and IBSE-related teaching, taking particular note of gender factors.” You can find teaching modules in different languages on the web page under Learning environments.
PROFILES modules integrate scientific and social issues through inquiry learning. In our lessons we tried to find out different features of Coke – both scientific and social. I had to modify the module a little to meet my needs.
In the first lesson students groups chose one feature and had to prepare a presentation for the next lesson. Through trying to create a meaningful presentation, students practised identifying problems and asking questions. They also practised making decisions and dividing tasks within the group. I also told them that at the end of the whole module there will be an evaluation of their work within the group, so nobody should stay passive and they should divide tasks between their members.
In the second lesson, we listened to the presentations and discussed the content and form of each one of them. Students pointed out the good and bad sides of each presentation and made suggestions on how to improve them. We developed an interesting discussion about advertising and how people are very often manipulated by advertisements. In biology, we had just studied aspects of the human nervous system, which led to the question on how the brain works and how the brain can be confused – perhaps the intention of advertisers!? We discussed about the importance of critical thinking in life as a whole and in science as well. I am sure that this is an important part of scientific literacy.
The purpose of the third lesson was to find out more about acids. We had studied the topic of acids earlier, so now we tried to consolidate previous knowledge and build on this in the new situation. I think it is very important for students to realize that everyday life is linked to their learning at school and in dealing with everyday situations they can benefit from their science knowledge. Students had taken along different drinks and we measured the acidity (pH) of them. In fact, students had heard from the media that high acidity is considered one of the health risks of Coke. They discussed in groups what and how to measure and set up their own hypotheses. We also decided to pay attention to the nutrition and ingredients information on the packaging. Based on the collected data, the students, as a whole class, were able to compare drinks and discuss why one or another drink would be good or bad for their health. They determined there was not an ideal drink and they decided that, in reasonable amounts, they could drink any of the studied liquids. During this simple yet scientific learning activity, which did not require much by way of resources or equipment, students learned how to plan an experiment, carry it out, set up hypotheses, collect and interpret data, present outcomes and draw conclusions. And above all, the students enjoyed doing it.
In the fourth lesson, we turned back to the beginning and held a discussion to try to draw social – scientific conclusions. The students wrote their conclusions into their notebooks, as well as giving oral feedback to both me and to each other about what they liked and had learned during the four lessons. I gave feedback to the students about how they had worked in my opinion and what I had noticed.
All students claimed they had enjoyed the lessons a lot due to the investigatory work and the opportunity to be actively involved. Most students said they had enjoyed the discussion on social problems because there were not many lessons where they could do that. Sometimes it seems that science can be better communicated and certainly it seems more motivational when using everyday interests of students as starting points.
Article written by: Aiki Jõgeva, Scientix Ambassador