- Observation and Experiment: Debates in Science
Department of Education, University of Delhi
Science is a kind of knowledge which has such authority in all the domains of our life, whether it is health, education, market and even religion. This high status of science is because of the ‘Scientific Method’ which makes the knowledge reliable and objective. What is this scientific method which defines the objective nature of science has always been a question of philosophical inquiry. This paper focuses on the two vital aspects of this Scientific Method namely, Observation and Experiment. Here the purpose of the paper is to discuss the debates on the role of observation and experiment in the generation of knowledge in Science. Observation and experiment form the base for scientific knowledge as it provides the content of analysis in the area of science. Observation is a way to form the perception about any phenomenon through senses. This arises the debate whether the observation of any phenomenon is a private and passive affair or it is public and active. Similarly, experiment used to verify certain facts which are based on some kind of observation. Experiments give rise to debates of its dependency on judgement of theory and advancing technology. This paper concludes that experiment and observation are two important aspects of scientific methods to claim objectivity. Both observation and experiment are objective but there is scope of fallibility and revision with respect to change in theories and advancement of technology.
- Understanding the significance of History and Philosophy of Science in teaching and learning Science through the lens of History of Atomism.
Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement
Since the dawn of life, the hunt for methodologies in the search of truth has formulated mankind. The attempt to internalize Nature of Science as a body of knowledge, a systematic study and a process by itself has travelled hand in hand with the evolution of civilization. At a larger scale, the comprehensive expression of these processes is compiled to articulate Science to be both objective as well as subjective at contexts.
The project has both scientific and ethical goals. The scientific goals underscore the significance of the Nature and Perspectives of Science as the underlying factor in teaching and learning Science. ‘Atomism’ is the living fossil that exemplarily explains this characteristic of Science as a way of living. The study of atoms embraced the fine line of demarcation between Philosophy and Science thereby justifying the basis of The Universe. Acquisition of this knowledge reflected several folds of changes in the regional and religious belief system, answering vast number of traditional practices thus making Science a dynamic process. The study will be equipped with analysis of Science textbooks of grade 6th to 8th for the topics of ‘Atom’ trying to understand the scope of Nature of Science across this spiral curriculum. A Semi-Structured Interview with the teachers practicing Science across these classes regarding their practice of methodologies in teaching Science will underline the ethical goal of the study. The study will be carried out in 5 schools of each cluster comprising rural, urban and semi-urban contexts of Karnataka.
History and Philosophy of Science as the preliminary foundation encourages appreciation towards learning Science thus transiting the study of Science as a subject to way of living, connecting theory to practice.
- The CEO of the Cell: How Centralized Thinking and Dominance Hierarchy Pervade in the Discourse on Living Cell
Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, Mumbai, India
This paper looks at the way the ideology of social dominance hierarchy influences the discourse on biological cells. Through the use of various visual and verbal metaphors, the cell is portrayed as a centralized system, with the nucleus as the leader or the control center. Although metaphors, like models, are nothing more than working hypotheses, often used metaphors become jargon of the field, and become an ideological lens that shapes the way we see and investigate. I dissect the visual representations as well as metaphors to note the tendency of postulating centralized systems and attempt to trace the appeal of such centralized narratives. I problematize these centralized narratives by borrowing from complex systems research (Resnick, 1996). Alternative narratives are explored wherein DNA is input data for the biochemical computing network of the cell (Altman and Koppel, 1990) instead of the program, or simply a book of ingredients instead of being a recipe or instruction manual. I argue for a decentralized view of the cell, one without a single stable locus of control within the cell. Finally, I discuss the two-way interaction of scientific narratives with the social discourse and analyze the ways in which scientific narratives can be used to justify and reinforce social dominance hierarchy.