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Cognitive Inertia: Seeking Conceptual Change

by: Thomas O'Brien

Cognitive inertia (or conservatism)—the tendency of humans to continue to think both what and how they have previously thought—applies at both the individual and the scientific community level. This activity features two demonstrations that can be used as visual participatory analogies for the idea of cognitive load and inertia, and the need for the teacher to provide adequate time and instructional scaffolding to help students achieve depth of understanding. In the first demonstration, two identical strings are attached to a kilogram mass. The first string is given a quick jerk and breaks while the second one is pulled slowly and is able to move and lift the mass. In the second demonstration, a pen balanced on a knitting hoop resting on a narrow-mouth bottle is observed to drop straight down into the bottle when the hoop is hit horizontally from inside the circular loop.

Level

Elementary SchoolMiddle SchoolHigh School

Details

Type Book ChapterPub Date 3/1/2010Stock # PB271X_24

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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