Saturday, February 18, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 119-120 (VCC West Building)There is a need for highly effective science education and for more successful ways to teach scientific inquiry. Work on language can play an important role in developing the concepts and skills necessary for understanding how science works. Language provides a wealth of data available from the students themselves — data with questions that beg to be asked, making everyday phenomena surprisingly unfamiliar and requiring explanation. Linguistics is at the core of cognitive science, offering incomparable ways to understand the nature of the human mind. The biological capacity for language appears to be shaped in part by genetic information and in part by information gained through childhood experience. Scientists have sought to tease that information apart, and this work has yielded good explanations in some domains and a body of understanding that can be made accessible to middle school and high school students. This symposium presents examples of linguistic puzzles that can be integrated into existing school curricula and that enable all children to understand elements of scientific work quite generally and to discover their own intuitive knowledge of language. (For example, how do we know that greebies is a noun in The greebies snarfed granflons, but a verb in Lulu greebies me?) All of this can be done without labs or expensive equipment by involving experimentation, observation, and testing of hypotheses.
Anne Lobeck, Western Washington University