Use the power of technology to turn science into a visual feast
Science is supposedly rooted in visible truths, but the teaching of it in schools often relies on students' blind faith. Many commonly taught scientific concepts and phenomena are difficult or impossible to see, such as invisible currents of water or air, the motion of light or transfer of heat, and things that happen too quickly or slowly to be seen by the naked eye.
In the past, teachers have found their way around this obstacle in a number of ways, such as diagrams or elaborate models. But modern technology now offers much easier - and much more engaging - ways to make the unseen visible.
Take, for example, the electromagnetic spectrum. Explain to your students that our eyes can see only a small slice of the spectrum: the rest is invisible to us. To prove it, bring out a digital camera and a remote control for a television or DVD player.
Point the remote at your students and press any button. They won't see what is being emitted, as the infrared light cannot be picked up by human eyes. Next, aim the remote at the camera's lens and direct the view screen towards your students. On the screen they will see the "invisible" light emitted by the remote control. Your point is proved.
Digital cameras are also useful for capturing events that happen too slowly to observe. For example, many students hold the misconception that plants grow up from the base of their stems, whereas growth really occurs at the tips of the plant's stem and branches. But because this process occurs so slowly, it is difficult to prove the fact.
To solve this problem, use a technique familiar to anyone with a love of nature documentaries: time-lapse photography. Far from being an expensive or complicated process, it can be incredibly simple. There are plenty of free or inexpensive time-lapse software programmes and apps that turn webcams, digital cameras and other devices into time-lapse cameras - for example, Time-Lapse, which is available at bit.lyTime-LapseApp.
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