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Public Misconceptions about Science. Harris Workshop May 2012 (Vishakha Monga). CHEMICALS ARE BAD AND TOXIC Misconception about same chemicals extracted from a natural source is SAFE but when synthesized in the lab is TOXIC.

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public misconceptions about science

Public Misconceptions about Science

Harris Workshop

May 2012

(Vishakha Monga)

slide2

CHEMICALS ARE BAD AND TOXIC

    • Misconception about same chemicals extracted from a natural source is SAFE but when synthesized in the lab is TOXIC.
    • Medicine from natural plant extracts SAFE without understanding the side effects of the remaining components even though Synthetic Pharmaceuticals have the exact composition required.
  • MEDIA HYPE (Journalist) ACCEPTABLE BUT SCIENTIFIC FACTS (Scientist) NOT TRUSTWORTHY
    • Will trust a “cow” over a chemist.
      • Margarine mistrusted (composition very close to a plastic) over butter.
    • Images of scientists portrayed as someone “geeky” and “weird”.
    • People are happy not knowing or discussing science as we use “jargon” to explain everyday basic concepts.
      • Good news is No News!!!
    • We, the chemists are also the general public and we fail to take our scientific concepts home!
slide3

INTER-DISCIPLINARY CONNECTION MISSING

    • When teaching chemistry, relate chemistry concepts with psychology, biology, physics, biochemistry
      • Peptide/ Amide Bond
      • Units used in Biology vs. Chemistry (kcal vs. kJ)
      • Units: metric vs. imperial system (kg vs. lbs)
      • Measuring quantities
        • How much is 1 mole of water?
        • pH vs. log/ exponential scale
slide4

ARE THE STUDENTS BEING RECEPTIVE TO OUR TEACHING AND TAKING THE MESSAGE BACK TO THEIR EVERYDAY LIVES?

    • Difference between temp. vs. heat transfer
    • Hot water freezes faster than cold water
    • They think what they learn in class is “artificial” and not applicable when they leave the classroom/ lab.
    • Science is not accepted by public.
slide5

SOME POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS:

    • Enforce problem solving skills from the very beginning so that we provide them with the tools to “think in the proper way”.
      • Not just memorize and regurgitate
    • Teach the fundamentals and then follow it up with “story telling” involving real life applications
      • Making tea: involves refluxing and extracting
      • Explain how fermentation works without “dumbing” it down because kids are like sponges and will learn early.
      • Things like antiobiotics/ nitrogen fixation/ vaccines have all contributed towards improving our lifestyle and adding to our life spans
      • Green Chemistry - Recycling!
      • Morphine/ Heroine connection
    • Teach them the basics of scientific language/ methodology
      • O2vs O3 or CO2vsCO