[squeakland] How can we help kids get into the habits of looking for all possible causes and counter examples to problems?

Steve Thomas sthomas1 at gosargon.com
Sun Oct 2 05:11:20 EDT 2011

On Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 12:18 AM, Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I gave a talk on how they did this in the Kyoto Prize lecture followups in
> San Diego in 2005. Aristarchus was one of several key figures.
> The shame of it is that for both math and science learning, the important
> heuristic of trying to identify all the possible cases for a result is never
> encountered by the children (or most adults) who have read about
> Eratosthenes.
> **
Early in the Alan's
sound terrible, content good) Alan talks about a survey done at the
Harvard commencement ceremonies where students, teachers and faculty were

   1. Why are there seasons?
   2. What causes the phases of the moon?

Most got it wrong (usually along the lines of "the seasons are caused by the
distance from the earth to the Sun").
Alan tried this at UCLA and got the same results (about 95% got had severe
misconceptions about one or both of them).
He then asked the follow up to question #1; When its Summer in the Northern
hemisphere, what season is it in the Southern Hemisphere?  They all got that
right, then after about 20 seconds the contradiction hit them

Then he asks, why is it, that they didn't come up with
this contradiction when they were asked the first question?

So what can we do about this, and how can we help kids look for all possible
causes and find counter examples?

I have some ideas which I will share later, what are yours?


*From:* Steve Thomas <sthomas1 at gosargon.com>
> *To:* naturalmath at googlegroups.com; iaep <iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org>;
> squeakland <squeakland at squeakland.org>
> *Sent:* Wednesday, September 28, 2011 9:06 PM
> *Subject:* [NaturalMath] KIds from around the world measuring the
> Circumference of the Earth
> The Goal of the Noon Day Project <http://ciese.org/curriculum/noonday/> is
> to have students measure the circumference of the earth using a method that
> was first used by Eratosthenes over 2000 years ago.
>  Students at various sites around the world will measure shadows cast by a
> meter stick and compare their results.
> From this data students will be able to calculate the circumference of the
> earth. Click here to get to their site and register.<http://ciese.org/curriculum/noonday/>
> Watch the Carl Sagan video, <http://youtu.be/0JHEqBLG650> its a treat.
> Thanks to Ihor Charischak for pointing this out.
> Stephen
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