Science Misconceptions & Good Thinking

Common Misconceptions in Science and Good Thinking

FREE Video Series on Science Misconceptions

As a child of the 80's I loved the "Magic School Bus" and "School House Rock" series, their animations, snazzy music, and content all kept me entertained and engaged. I'd like to introduce you to a modern version of this, but with a great slant, the "Good Thinking" animated video series from the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It's aimed at teachers, educators, and even those just interested in learning about how science is taught.  Specifically it addresses misconceptions in science.

I love this series because it addresses an important idea that has often been left out of science pedagogy (teaching about teaching), namely that kids don't come into the classroom as blank slates. They already have preformed ideas about how the world works. These ideas come from experiences, social media, friends, family, other teachers, and many other places.

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Good Thinking Logo (Photo: SSEC)

The series starts by addressing the idea of how students bring science misconceptions with them to classroom (and other places), and the fact that teachers need to know what their students think and believe before trying to address the topic they want to teach. This can be daunting with so many points of view, but without knowing a student's preconceptions, it's hard for new ideas to take root. The series also addresses how teachers can generate or even perpetuate common misconceptions  in their classrooms.   For example, many students are taught that natural selection is the same as "survival of the fittest," and this is a wrong idea. Natural selection is about passing along genes and reproducing, not necessarily about being the most "fit."   Random chance can also wipe out the most fit individuals in a population, which naturally selects for those that survive. This is just one idea that the video called, "Natural Selection" addresses.

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Photo of characters from the Good Thinking series discussing misconceptions about natural selection (Photo: SSEC).

Another video on the website includes common misconceptions about learning styles and how the concept of single learning styles is outdated. Be patient, many more videos are coming! This is just the start. Here's a link to their Youtube page too, so you can subscribe to their series.

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The character "Gummerson" from the series (Photo: SSEC).

Science misconceptions are a serious topic, but I love the animation, snappy music, humor, and graphics of this series. My favorite is the piece of gum, "Gummerson" that looks like Wilford Brimley.   Pass along the link for this series to your friends, family, and any teachers you know. Keep an eye on the website for more additions too!