A Private Universe
Discover why even Ivy League graduates don't really grasp basic science concepts in this video documentary for grade 5-12 educators.
A video documentary on education research for grade 5-12 educators; 1 twenty-minute video program and guide.
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.
About the Producers and Advisors
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Science Education Department, Science Media Group
Project Key Personnel:
Irwin Shapiro, Principal Investigator
Charles Whitney, Co-Principal Investigator
Philip Sadler, Co-Investigator
Matthew Schneps, Project Director
Ara Sahiner, Senior Producer
Wendy Jones, Associate Producer
Tricia Osborne, Editor
Steve Allardi, Assistant Editor
Nancy Finkelstein, Director of Educational Affairs
Melodie Hicks-Arterberry, Education Coordinator
Michael Filisky, Researcher/Writer
Linda Alford, Michigan State University
Helen Ansell, Bok Center
Melanie Barron, Cambridge Public Schools, MA
Peggy Charron, Founder, Action for Children’s Television
Helen Corbett, Corbett & Lalli Public Relations
Barbara Costa, WGBH, Boston
Sally Crissman, Shady Hill School
Mary Futrell, George Washington University
Daniel Goroff, Bok Center
Paul Hickman, Belmont High School
Jennifer Hickman, Boston University Academy
Richard Konicek, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Melanie Magisos, University of Arizona, Center for Image Processing
Jose Rivera, Umana/Barnes Middle School
Joel Schneider, Children’s Television Workshop
Eric Stange, Independent Documentary Filmmaker
Meg Watson, Project PALMS, Boston Public Schools
Marianne Wiser, Clark University
1 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.
2 Matt Schneps and Phil Sadler
The creators of A Private Universe describe their motivation for making the film. ***NOTE: Due to a video archive issue, this clip is unavailable, but visitors can view the clip as part of full version from 6:05 to 7:53 of the video below.***
3 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.
4 Joseph Novak
A Cornell University science education professor tells how misconceptions research grew from a study on the efficacy of auditory learning.
5 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.
6 Joel Mintzes
The science education research director for the follow-on series Minds of Our Own discusses the research base for A Private Universe.
7 James Wandersee
A professor of science education at Louisiana State Univ. explains that the focus on science facts over understanding leads to misconceptions.
8 Heather Mars Talk
Heather Mars, the middle schooler in A Private Universe, recalls the reaction to the video and her subsequent experiences in education.
9 Heather Mars Q and A
Heather Mars, the middle schooler in A Private Universe, participates in a Q and A.