Science thinking, different teachers

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Benson, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. Benson Registered Member

    Messages:
    41
    I left school in 1984 after just doing one year of A Levels. Science always interested me but I went to college etc. and to new endeavours.

    One day in class, we were taught Bohr's idea of the atom and after the teacher rambled on, we had to draw the idea of the atom into our text books. Whilst doing that, it got me thinking. As the teacher was ambling by, he asked me what I was thinking. I told him, "If I have hot water, milk and coffee to represent the components of the atom as per Mr Bohr and I make various cups of coffee with different ratios, I just get weak to strong coffee and watery to milky coffee. I don't get different hardnesses, materials etc.. so something is missing or not right". He told me not to be so stupid. So I never went into science.

    Many years later, working in retail, I met a science teacher as a customer and I explained my school experience. Since then, scientists have since found, quarks, hadrons, laptons etc.. and obviously much more to an atom. She said, "It's people like you that's needed in science". Too late, very qualified in the construction field and 15 years times, retirement.

    So science has always interested me, hence why I'm here, but have you encountered such problems like this?
     
    RainbowSingularity likes this.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,372
    That seems like a poor way to conceptualize the Bohr model.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,988
    I've never come across a situation quite like the one you describe, and it feels to me as if there must have been more to to the conversation than your brief description of it. Did your science teacher never get round to explaining how it is that different numbers of protons and electrons in the atom make atoms with different behaviour? That is entirely what my subject, chemistry, is all about.

    But it certainly is the case that isolated experiences at school do alter the course of our lives. I have experienced that, undoubtedly.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,800
    That is too bad that one comment from a teacher caused you to give up. I am sure that happens to many people. I have recently been reading about various musician and how difficult it is to make it in the music business. Many professionals told Elvis Presley that he could not sing as he was trying to break into the music business. The Beatles were told that they had no talent in their early years. I wonder how many promising musicians gave up along the way and how many wonderful songs will never be made.
     
  8. Benson Registered Member

    Messages:
    41
    Why? I was taught that electronics orbited the nucleus in varying numbers and in shells. Obviously the nucleus containing protons and neutrons, and that was it, if memory serves.

    That was too simplistic, and it is.
     
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,988
    But that is all it takes, to account for the properties of all the elements - provided you attend to the consequences of the shells being at various distances from the nucleus, being partly or wholly filled, and so on. (OK they are orbitals, not orbits, but that does not change the principle).

    None of the other fundamental particles are needed to account for the properties of materials and substances.
     
  10. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,501
    i dont know anything about atomic physics so i cant give an answer to that side of your question.
    however, i have over the years had many conversations with teachers of various types and levels.
    from those conversations in light of what you say, your experience is not uncommon.
    there is some skewed data on near savant level intellectuals who the standard school system was and still is in many 1st world countrys, incapable of teaching or adapting to.

    ironically enough the best inroads to savant level school delivery has come from special needs education.
    the special needs education of children with varying types of different processes of learning has delivered quite a substantial behind the scenes progress for the upper level students.
    soo much so that funding learning disabilities students should be equal to funding the upper bracket of super achiever students.
    both seem to add value to the ability to get better results over all and in tern lift the quality of education and schooling for the entire school.
     
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
    32,363
    Benson:

    The missing piece of the puzzle is that atoms are not materials. Materials properties like hardness, wetness, solidity, malleability, colour and so on are typically determined by the interactions of many billions of atoms, often bonded together by complicated electrical interactions. It is the combination of atoms that makes your coffee strong or weak, watery or milky, not the atoms alone.

    At the level of chemistry, which is what you deal with on the human level in your daily life, the interactions between quarks in a nucleus are largely irrelevant, and exotic particles like neutrinos might as well not exist. Chemistry is mostly about what the electrons in atoms are doing with the electrons of neighbouring atoms, and that's all. (There's more than enough complexity in that to keep the chemists busy for centuries yet, however.)

    Problems with impatient teachers, and sometimes with teachers who don't know enough about the subjects they are teaching, are commonplace. Everybody has to deal with that at one time or another. As other people here have said, it's a pity that sometimes one teacher can turn a student off a subject that he would otherwise be interested in.

    The best shield against bad teachers is to learn how to learn for yourself. Good teachers can be incredibly helpful; with bad ones, you sometimes just have to work your way past them.
     
  12. Benson Registered Member

    Messages:
    41
    You have to bear in mind that the knowledge of the atom in a comprehensive school kid aged approx 14 to 15 in the 80's was slightly different to now.

    Also, many of those kids didn't have the nouse to deal with useless teachers.

    Either way, my scepticism proved correct. Doesn't matter if someone has come to the correct conclusion for the wrong reasons, obviously the teacher didn't like challenge. Science is just purely theories, even the current one on the atom is still a theory and as the decades past, new discoveries will take place to advance that theory.
     
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
    32,363
    I'm not sure about that. The atomic model that is taught to 14 or 15 year olds now wouldn't be much different from one was taught back then, at least judging from my own experience.

    I understand.

    Unfortunately, some teachers don't have a deep understanding of some of the things they end up teaching, and they can get defensive when that lack of knowledge is in danger of being exposed.

    Sure. That's how science works.
     
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,988
    I don't quite follow. Do you mean to tell me that, rather than telling the teacher you didn't understand, you actually told him he was wrong, on the basis of your analogy with coffee, milk, etc.?

    If so, I'm not a bit surprised he told you not to be stupid. Rejecting something before you have had a chance to understand how it works is not the mark of a sensible person. Perhaps the teacher was not skilled at dealing with teenage rebellion, though.

    P.S. Do I sense the Jolly Roger being run up here, I wonder?.......

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  15. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,372
    What does it have to do with coffee?
     
  16. Benson Registered Member

    Messages:
    41
    No, I was presented with the model of the atom and it's constituent parts. So what I had been presented with and my observation of the solids, liquids and gasses that surround me, I just thought the model was too simple and there was much more to the atom, as in it's components. My rationale at the time was trying to make coffee with the components given, that's where my logic came from.

    It's very obvious, surprised I had to explain this.
     
  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,988
    OK, and you were wrong of course, but I am just trying to work out why the teacher reacted as he did. It seemed likely to me that you were perhaps contradicting him, rather than saying you did not see how it could be so.

    Sorry if I seem a bit suspicious. We get a lot of cranks here, who generally start off reasonable and then start introducing their silly ideas. So I admit I'm half expecting you to come forward with some wrong-headed personal notions about the structure of the atom. But I'll be delighted if you don't!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
  18. Benson Registered Member

    Messages:
    41
    I'll try to make this simpler for you.

    I was presented with an picture on the chalk board. It had a nucleus containing protons and neutrons with electrons in orbit. That was it, no parts or composition to those three particles. So I thought, if these were milk, water and coffee....... (Read past posts to avoid duplication)

    So I'm sat there thinking, "There's obviously much more to these particles".

    Lo and behold, as you probably know, there is.

    So whether you think it was a foolish thought, I'm a crank or whatever, I think you need to sort that with yourself and I was correct. So please have a good day.
     
  19. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    15,446
    I guess you could make that analogy work. All those things (water, milk and coffee) are made up of many other elements - just as all those parts of the atom (with the exception of electrons) are made up of more elementary particles. The coffee level can be low or high, just as electron orbitals can be low or high.
    Or with mostly milk you could make cheese or yogurt. Or with the water, you could split into oxygen and hydrogen. You could boil the water and drive a generator. You could freeze the water, and hit someone over the head with it - or make a machine out of the ice (if it's cold enough.) The possibilities are endless!
    Sure you do.
     
  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,988
    You seem to be under the impression that electrons, protons and neutrons are insufficient to account for the variety of materials we see around us. That is incorrect. The whole of chemistry and materials science is accounted for in terms of these three subatomic entities alone.

    The other subatomic particles and their constituents are irrelevant. I would have been a complete red herring for your teacher to have introduced all these to your class.
     
    sideshowbob likes this.
  21. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,680
    You left school before I was born so that would be a vivid recollection. Especially if you basically said the same thing to that customer. BTW, I don't think you need a PhD to be a high school teacher.
     
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,988
    Indeed it is often an advantage if you do not have a PhD. My experience at school was that the best teachers were those who could understand why you might not understand. Those with PhDs in the subject sometimes struggle to put themselves in the student's shoes. For instance my best maths teacher had given up maths after his first year at university and switched to geology.
     
  23. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,372
    I had a professor who told us that the first time he studied thermodynamics, as an undergrad, he didn't understand it; the second time he studied it, as a grad student, he thought he understood it; then later, when he had to teach it, he realized that he didn't understand it as well as he thought he did.
     

Share This Page