Science Education: Where Do We Start?
By: Roger Osborne
The Australian Science Teachers Journal, August 1981
Roger Osborne was very insightful in noting that the students / pupils might have misconceptions about science which they might have picked-up early on. These ideas should be corrected by the teacher-at-hand. Because they might be dangerous to the life of the individual if he or she stake their lives on a certain uncorrected misconception.
A few months ago, my playmate’s younger brother once thought that as long as there is an electric fan turning in an air tight, hermetically sealed room, a person or an animal can still live. Even though all the oxygen contained in the air sealed inside, is consumed by the respiration process of the person or animal therein. To remedy this misconception, my playmate and I, both aspiring scientists, made an experiment. Using common household materials: a large jar about one gallon in volume, a basin filled with water large enough to fit the inverted jar, a styrofoam float, a candle and an “unfortunate” grasshopper set up so that the jar faces down with an air pocket. Inside, the floating candle burned. Accelerating oxygen consumption while a small battery operated fan whirls. The grasshopper died after several minutes after the candle flame was snuffed out due to the oxygen being exhausted even though the fan is still running. Basing on what we’ve learned so far about respiration, the grasshopper didn’t die because of the candle’s flame but due to lack of oxygen, and the fan is useless as a life support device at this point.