I know how much we are drawn to have our students collect data – the fun of having them outside, using equipment, recording information is just so strong that many of us just want to get to that phase of WeatherBlur as quickly as possible. We want our students at ACT like a scientist.
But the power of WeatherBlur happens before that!
And, in fact, the power of all science takes place before any piece of equipment, or any field trip, or any information is ever collected. It is when the scientists think through a problem….and try to get the crux of the issue they are trying to solve. Being able to break a problem down into its discrete parts and then working out a way to measure and test those parts in a meaningful and repeatable way – that is what makes science just so important.
iWonder allows our students to do just that. It is in iWonder that they learn to THINK like a scientist. And it is in this step that students can be taught the fundamentals of Computational Thinking (CT). Scientists use CT all the time. They break down complex problems into smaller stages that they can test (decomposition). They make sure that their stage is not being confused by irrelevant details or ideas (abstraction), they look for patterns in the ideas (pattern regition) and finally then work out protocols made up of step-by-step actions to collect data that will be used to test their original idea (algorithms) . And all this is BEFORE they turn on one machine, step foot into the field or collect any piece of information!
Most citizen science programs skip this important step – or at least that step has taken place before you are involved and it is often hidden from our experience. And missing that step means you really miss out on experiencing real science!
But WeatherBlur is different. Our students are learning to think – critically and deeply – about issues that affect and are relevant to them.
So please don’t skip over iWonder. Use it to teach your students how to think like scientists.