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Overview
A Private Universe
 

A video documentary on education research for grade 5-12 educators; 1 twenty-minute video program and guide

Now on DVD

With its famous opening scene at a Harvard graduation, this classic of education research brings into sharp focus the dilemma facing all educators: Why don't even the brightest students truly grasp basic science concepts? This award-winning program traces the problem through interviews with Harvard graduates and their professors, as well as with a bright ninth-grader who has some confused ideas about the orbits of the planets. Equally useful for education methods classes, teacher workshops, and presentations to the public, A Private Universe is an essential resource for science and methodology teachers.

Produced by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. 1987.

ISBN: 1-57680-404-6
Students grapple with seasonal change.
Students grapple with seasonal change.

Overview
Individual Program Descriptions
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Related Resources See all
Minds of Our Own
Private Universe Project in Science
Private Universe Project in Mathematics
Surprises in Mind
Essential Science for Teachers: Earth and Space Science
 
A Private Universe Project Lab
Science Discipline Page
Individual Program Descriptions

VOD1. A Private Universe
This video brings into sharp focus the dilemma facing all educators: Why don't even the brightest students truly grasp basic science concepts? Interviews are held with high school students and Ivy League graduates asking them to explain what causes the seasons and the phases of the moon. Even the brightest students in the class have false ideas based on enduring misconceptions that traditional instructional methods cannot overcome.

VOD2. Matt Schneps and Phil Sadler
The creators of A Private Universe describe their motivation for making the film.

VOD3. Irwin Shapiro
The former head of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reminisces about his role in getting Harvard to sign off on the film.

VOD4. Joseph Novak
A Cornell University science education professor tells how misconceptions research grew from a study on the efficacy of auditory learning.

VOD5. Bassam Shakhashiri
The head of the NSF Education Directorate, which funded A Private Universe in 1981, used the film to rebuild federal support for science education.

VOD6. Joel Mintzes
The science education research director for the follow-on series Minds of Our Own discusses the research base for A Private Universe.

VOD7. James Wandersee
A professor of science education at Louisiana State Univ. explains that the focus on science facts over understanding leads to misconceptions.

VOD8. Heather Mars Talk
Heather Mars, the middle schooler in A Private Universe, recalls the reaction to the video and her subsequent experiences in education.

VOD9. Heather Mars Q and A

VOD10. A Private Universe 20 Years Later
A session about the making of A Private Universe, with remarks from the creators, education leaders, and Heather, the former middle schooler featured in the film.

 

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