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In the past, the advancement in culture-based education was a good book and the peace and quiet to read it. Today, what will it take to attract the attention of students?

In today's fast-paced world with seamless borders, multiple cultures filling the airwaves, or otherwise being flooded into people's lives through various high-tech portals—people expect more than ever before from those who supply them with goods and services. At the same time, they have a shorter attention span and lower patience for things that are not suited to their own style of learning and interests.


 


Charting the Progress of Technology

One of the more "user friendly" ways to teach science and math is to look at the "human interest" story of how technology was developed step-by-step. As one discovery was made, this spurred investigation into still more intriguing topics, which leads to more understanding. However, simply listing a series of formulas and diagrams in succession is not very appealing to the "casual" student. Instead, when the same information is portrayed in a well produced documentary, focusing on the life and struggles of prominent scientists, the story comes alive. Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, or Pierre Curie are phenomenally productive discovers and are good examples from the human interest side as well. Each of them was at the vortex of rapid scientific invention, resulting in universally applicable technology that all of us use nearly continuously during our working days. Electricity, radio, recorded music, television, and computers are just some of the technology that has been enabled by the inventions of these scientists. Even though they were each born in the mid-1800's in different countries, speaking different languages, their lives became intertwined in the race to discovery...and now have become so closely linked with our own lives.

What are Potential Sources of Related Materials?

There are a variety of sources of scientific educational materials, some of which are very well produced. The question is about which ones simultaneously are comprehensive and tailorable to the needs of students, yet still accessible and affordable. There is a wide spectrum of philosophies about society, religion, and politics, and this affects the "spin" put on the scientific curriculum as well. If private school circles are not able to find extant materials that shows consideration for their particular values relative to social norms, religion, patriotism, family, culture, internationalism, and national sovereignty (whether conservative or liberal), then how can they get them produced?

Who else is asking similar questions about the quality of science education and how it affects society? Some diverse opinions can be found among:


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Thomas Alva Edison - Pioneer of Invention

Edison originally had hired Nikola Tesla, but the two parted over a disagreement on whether Direct Current or Alternating Current should be the standard for distributing electricity to the consumer. Tesla, the advocate of Alternating Current, eventually proved that this was the most effective approach. Edison was not intimidated by a particular experiment's failure, as long as it was only a temporary setback on his path to another discovery. Edison utilized an empirical (trial and error) methodology, as opposed to a more theoretical (mathematics and analysis based) approach. It was Edison's methodical process of experimentation, fueled by an insatiable desire to invent, that led to his successfully gaining 1,093 patents. These patents were not for trivial, incremental improvements in some narrow area. Instead, they spanned across some of the most significant technology areas that affect each consumer even today.

Documentaries on Edison's scientific achievements have already been made. However, they only address lightly the details about only limited aspects of his work. What if there was a more comprehensive curriculum that had the "human interest" story of a documentary, but also the ability to cover the breadth and depth of Edison's work? What form would this take? A library of instructional modules on DVD in a Distance Learning catalog would be needed to contain all of this. Each module could include some multi-media introduction (at a level that even a new initiate could glean something useful from) and then supporting details could be perused at the person's option. Presuming that a curriculum author knows the subject well and can portray it appropriately so that a student can comprehend it, what kind of imagery and supporting data would have to be made available to the author produce a series of instructional materials like this?

To start with, it would be good to have copies of all extant lab notes, historical photographs, patent papers, publications, and extraneous accounts of what transpired (presuming licensing can be obtained). To supplement the existing record, new high-grade imagery should be taken of the original laboratory and equipment sets. Any materials and supplies used in the experiments should be documented as well, such as the elements and compounds used in the experiments (the laboratory walls were lined with chemicals in storage jars). Illustrative information on processes and the scientific principals would need to be covered as well. Of course, all of this data would have to processed so that it is suited for the intended production. Then, since the quality and comprehensiveness of the imagery and data exceeds that needed for just the preliminary educational products, the side benefit is that it would be available for further educational or documentary uses in other multi-media products.

Edison's work was so extensive that it would be very difficult to exhaust the number of scientific subjects that could spring just from an examination of his creative genious. However, by expanding from Edison to his peers of the day, and then those who labored before him and followed after, a more extensive coverage of the many scientific fields of endeavor could be accomplished.

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Discover More about Edison and His Laboratory

Where is the record of Edison's scientific achievements being kept today? It has been dispersed to more than one site. The most accessible locations are listed here:

   
   

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