The experiment described for testing hardness of water for last year’s unit is similar to the above epxeriment in that it is easy to become subjective despite apparent objectivity because of the importance of good technique. It involves soaps, detergents end water and so is always safe for student creativity. Putting the experiment into the Connecticut context and testing for differences of results depending upon temperature and acidity is a variation to enrich the experience. What I would envision this experiment lending itself for, especially from a Deweyan point ot view, is to use it to demonstrate the importance of argument in science. John Dewey was committed to science as the best way to solve any kind of problem, presuming that we do not take a wooden approach to scientific method. In essence, science is about testing experiernce using reason that unites inputs with outcomes, using literal or analogical models. In a way, it is no different from a trial in a court of law. The event precipitating a trial is the scientist’s problem. The accusation is the hypothesis. The evidence in the court is the experimenter’s evidence. Lawyers for the prosecution and the defense must come up with scenarios linking evidence with the hyothesis. The plot carried out by the villain corresponds to the procedure that the scientist claims unites evidence to justify theory. A jury of peers has to be persuaded by the court heanngs and in science the jury consists of his peers in science and the judges are the editors of scientific journals.
In this experiment, one group of students can present their results and act as a prosecution team. It presents evidence to justify a hypothesis as true. Another group can act as the ‘defense’ to weaken or negate the truth of the hypothesis. Another group of students can act as jury. The teacher or suitable student can act as judge or guide to the procedings . The ‘trial’ can be repeated using another three groups of students and change in judge.