I like the coin flip idea. I have done something along these lines as a single session with homeschool kids where I gave them two decks of cards and had them stack the deck while I was out. When I came back I used an Excel VBA program I had made to continually reassess the maximum likelihood for the red/black proportion and updated it as I drew cards. Didn't go quite as well as I had hoped, mostly because I didn't emphasize that in order to get quick results they needed to really stack the deck, and they had made it 24 red, 28 black, or something similar.
Anyway, yes, I was thinking exploring probability might have some more possibilities along these lines, so I will think about that a little more. We did optical illusions today: persistence of vision, pattern juxtaposition, etc. Then we talked about how they fool system 1 thought, but you can use system 2 techniques to defeat them, did things like measuring the apparently converging lines, slowed down the thaumatrope, etc.
Yes, I agree that doing good science is hard with flash, I've just had everyone telling me that that's what hooks them. Good to know that's not really true.
I'm thinking along the lines heavily leading to/giving the model, not necessarily having them come up with it themselves and then testing it. But part of the reason I'm asking here is to see if anyone has ideas regarding models which are discoverable by kids this age so that they can get there by more of their own processes.
Yes, I suppose I could have been more specific about the number of kids. I will be teaching my own two at a minimum, but could have as many as seven others join.
Thanks for the note about the handbook, I'll check it out.
I like these ideas, and you're right that these KISS type questions are good at getting at the heart of mechanisms and generalizing outside of context.
I'll mention now though, that I've been rightly advised to not disregard the flashy stuff kids like to see, because it is effective at getting them excited about science. Do you have any specific recommendations on how to take some of the classic "experiments for kids!" stuff you can find with a google search and add in a dose of "construct a falsifiable model and attempt to falsify it"? Some way I can keep the flash, but still teach them to the importance of models which allow them to make bold predictions?
Thanks for the link! It gave me his email address, I agree about the Inflection Point curriculum, the task will be to convert it to elementary level.
Found it thanks to the website posted below. firstname.lastname@example.org
How would I contact him?
Well, my first thought is that I need to spend some actual time on this site (I had to look up most everything you mentioned); Most of my education has simply come from Yudkowsky's book/compilation.
Zendo definitely looks promising, and should definitely be an element of the course as well as something I play with my kids. As I envision the course, however, it would be an element such as a warm up or cash out, not the core curriculum.
My thoughts on Credence Calibration are similar to my thoughts on Zendo with the following modifications: each kid would be given ten poker chips, we would play the 2 statement variant (at least initially), scoring would be simplified to the liar keeping all poker chips bet on his lie, winner would be the one with the most poker chips at the end.
Focusing and Internal Double Crux seem like they would be pretty hard to teach to elementary age children. Focusing mostly because it seems like it would require one-on-one instruction, at least initially.
Unfortunately, I do not have much instrumentation. I could buy inexpensive things, so a thermometer and a humidity sensor would be doable, but it seems like a worthwhile a CO2 sensor might be a little more (based on my brief look on Amazon). I really do like the idea of the experiment though.
Some experimentation ideas I have received: investigate air pressure changes created by shower water spray as measured by a shower curtain (also blowing over pieces of paper, blow dryer, etc.) and electricity produced by a lemon battery, water drawn through celery including dyed water, spectrum differences in light sources as shown by a prism.
I took a look; looks pretty cool and I will definitely get this to play with my kids. Not sure it's quite what I want to build a curriculum around though.
C.S. Lewis addressed the issue of faith in Mere Christianity as follows:
In one sense Faith means simply Belief—accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple. But what does puzzle people—at least it used to puzzle me—is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue, I used to ask how on earth it can be a virtue—what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements? Obviously, I used to say, a sane man accepts or rejects any statement, not because he wants or does not want to, but because the evidence seems to him good or bad.
Well, I think I still take that view. But what I did not see then— and a good many people do not see still—was this. I was assuming that if the human mind once accepts a thing as true it will automatically go on regarding it as true, until some real reason for reconsidering it turns up. In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so.
For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anaesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me. In other words, I lose my faith in anaesthetics. It is not reason that is taking away my faith: on the contrary, my faith is based on reason. It is my imagination and emotions. The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other.
When you think of it you will see lots of instances of this. A man knows, on perfectly good evidence, that a pretty girl of his acquaintance is a liar and cannot keep a secret and ought not to be trusted; but when he finds himself with her his mind loses its faith in that bit of knowledge and he starts thinking, “Perhaps she’ll be different this time,” and once more makes a fool of himself and tells her something he ought not to have told her. His senses and emotions have destroyed his faith in what he really knows to be true.
Or take a boy learning to swim. His reason knows perfectly well that an unsupported human body will not necessarily sink in water: he has seen dozens of people float and swim. But the whole question is whether he will be able to go on believing this when the instructor takes away his hand and leaves him unsupported in the water—or whether he will suddenly cease to believe it and get in a fright and go down.
Now just the same thing happens about Christianity. I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it. That is not the point at which Faith comes in. Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.
Although many religious people use the word differently, this is how I use Faith, and I propose that it would be an acceptable one to facilitate this discussion: a determination to hold on to what you have already established a high confidence level in, despite signals you may have received from less rational sources (i.e. emotions).