The day I went into physics class it was death... a man with a high, lisping voice stood in front of the class holding a little wooden ball. He put the ball on a steep grooved slide and let it run down to the bottom. Then he started talking about let `a' equal acceleration and let `t' equal time and suddenly he was scribbling letters and numbers and equals signs all over the blackboard and my mind went dead. ... What I couldn’t stand was this shrinking everything into letters and numbers on the blackboard... there were these hideous, cramped, scorpion lettered formulas...
Sylvia Plath, in The Bell Jar
The goal of modeling and conceptual change research group is to make the thinking process of science, in particular physics, accessible to a larger populace. We plan to achieve this by studying the process of knowledge construction in science, at the heart of which lies mathematical modeling of the physical world.
Our research strives to find points of convergence and divergence between our everyday, common sense ways of reasoning and those employed in scientific knowledge construction. Findings from the research are then intended to provide insights on improving aspects of teaching and learning. The group is committed to the premise that we learn by building on things we already know, that even the most sophisticated forms of reasoning we develop are fundamentally rooted in our intuitions and everyday thinking. Thus by giving voice to our intuitions and commonsense and helping learners understand the thought process of physics we hope to transition our science classrooms from a prevailing culture of silence to a culture of discourse !