Academic Calendar 2017-2018

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September 21, 2015

Today's Quote: 


Thursday and Friday saw most of our classes really getting into a lively debate about the importance of logic and evidence in making decisions about what to believe. 

Students had watched How Do We Decide What To Believe? Which introduced the hierarchy of metacognition that hoomans use when making decisions. This consists of 4 things: Intuition, Authority, Logic and Evidence. The students had to explain what the problem being solved in the video was, and how the speaker eventually solved it. They then looked at several other examples and discussed in small groups how to apply the 4 terms.

This introductory activity lead us into a debate over which is more important, logic or evidence in deciding what to believe. Most classes successfully reasoned that both logic and evidence, taken by themselves can only get you so far, but evidence is more important. 

I used the logic of the bathroom shield to the class to demonstrate sophistry and how political figures and others use this trick of reasoning to mislead people in their thinking. Up until a few years ago, I used a heavy wooden medieval shield that I built as a restroom pass. I explained that the eternal battle between students and teachers is trying to keep them in class while they find every reason to get out of class. To that end, if they wanted to leave they had to carry this shield. When asked why, I always responded that the shield kept them safe from dragons. Students would then carry the shield and go to the bathroom, water fountain, where ever, and then return to class. Upon their return, I would ask if they saw dragons? The answer was invariably, "No." I would then announce that the shield worked. This is a very logical argument, but it is also sophistry at it's finest; it relies on the fact that students can't entirely disprove the existence of dragons and as log as that key piece of evidence is missing then the shield works, and does it's job of keeping dragons away as they wander the caverns of the school.

Following that, students then shared in teams what they had learned from the webquest Introduction to the Human Brain. Students lead the discussion of nine questions from their webquest and expounded on what they learned based upon their own problem solving skills.  It was obvious several students didn't watch the video or do the webquest and this hurt the class discussion so the questions were assigned as part of their homework to be answered in short response form (three to five sentences over each missed question). This will be turned in today and will only show in the gradebook for those classes who could not carry the discussion. 

Students were reminded several times to report to our class on Monday.

Today's Agenda: 

Progress reports go home- If I add a note to your progress report, it MUST be returned to me, signed tomorrow.The Mystery of the Disappearing Breakfast- Students will compete this in class assignment and turn it in on a 3x5 note card as their exit ticket from class. Make certain it has your name, date, and class period ON THE BACK!

Class lecture over how to apply Bayes Rules to science. 

Turn in your short answers to the questions assigned at the end of the discussion on Thursday or Friday!


The Idea of Hypothesis- applying Bayes Rule to the environment and Disease- Complete this at home and return to class prepared to discuss your responses. Consider these questions:

  1. List six testable hypotheses as if/then statements
  2. Apply Bayes Rule to each of them to determine the most probable one.
  3. Assume that you and your brother drank distilled water for a week and your illness went away. What questions remain and how likely (probable) is it that you have solved the mystery of your illness? 
  4. Be prepared to explain why you reached the conclusion you have.

Formulas are important to science and math (and even cooking). Be certain to watch these short videos that will further explain Bayes Rule. We will be pulling ideas from each of these videos over the next month so take this week and watch them. (You are expected to have a working knowledge of the processes used in these videos to test evidence for hypotheses over the course of the year.

Bayes Theorem For Everyone- Creation/ Evolution * This is a thought experiment using a common debate that comes up in scientific circles frequently. Evolution has empirical scientific evidence to support it. It's science and doesn't require belief. Each and every student is entitled to their own beliefs.

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