Educational Research: the Example of Light and Color
Science education research can and should play an important role in NASA's education and public outreach e®orts. This is not to say that it always does.
This is not only a problem exhibited by scientists new to education, but to experienced teachers, museum educators and professors in the sciences. While research scientists make a habit of examining past efforts to help inform a new project and to avoid repeating mistakes, educational efforts often start without examining precedents. Museum exhibits, curricula, demonstrations, and laboratory
activities are often developed from scratch," ignoring earlier work. All too often, the content knowledge, schooling history, teaching experience, and enthusiasm
of the development team will propel it prematurely into production mode, eager for a prototype or ¯eld test. Only when trying to evaluate the completed project's quality and impact do any previously relevant initiatives surface, but by then their influence on the project can only be minimal. I advocate the rather mundane advice that educational projects follow many of the same steps as those that are scientific in nature. No corners should be cut.
Few scientists will risk not undertaking an extensive initial literature review in a scientific domain to which they expect to contribute. They will seek out and
value advice from earlier investigators, utilizing them in an advisory capacity.
Although scientists mythologize scientific breakthroughs that occur without familiarity with past advances, such a breakthrough is quite a rare occurrence, and usually does not survive close scrutiny of the facts. Most scientists will carefully formulate goals that are measurable and that specify accomplishments that will constitute success or render the project a failure, with a drive to make a timely contribution to the research literature paramount. By way of illustration, this paper traces the development of a single line of research, that having to do with
the development of materials and activities to teach the fundamentals of light and color, topics that are fundamental to understanding much of astronomy and
Type of Publication
Sadler, Philip M.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
NASA O±ce of Space Science Education and Public Outreach Conference 2002. ASP Conference Series
Conference Proceeding Type
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America