The Renaming of Parts; or, Energy is the New Orange

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A PC approach to energy?

Neil Atkin recently wrote a fascinating post about the “New” approach for teaching the concept of energy to secondary school students, and provides some interesting commentary and some very useful links: go read!

I first came across the work of Ogborn and Boohan, on which much of the “New Approach” is based, in the 1990s. I remember embracing it enthusiastically. However, I subsequently returned to the more “traditional” kinetic-chemical-heat-potential-light-sound “naming of parts” model, mostly because many of the resources favoured by our students followed the older convention.

And so it has remained for a number of years, so I was all set to give the “New Approach” a proper rubbishing (as might be gleaned from my selection of the Gary Larson cartoon above) as a specious form of PC — physical correctness as opposed to political correctness, perhaps.

But as I read more about the “New Approach”, I gradually came to the conclusion that it is conceptually sound. More importantly, I think it follows one of the basic principles suggested by Engelmann and Carnine:

[I]f we are to understand how to communicate a particular bit of knowledge . . . we must understand the essential features of the particular concept that we are attempting to convey. Only if we understand what it is and how it differs from related concepts can we design a communication that effectively conveys the concept to the learner.
The Theory Of Instruction, location 296

In other words, I think the “New Approach” is a more accurate representation of the physics of energy, and less likely to lead to misconceptions and false inferences.

Energy Is The New Orange

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Read Dr Dav’s excellent blog post from 2013 for a clear summary of the arguments in favour of the New Approach, as well as Robin Millar’s excellent paper on the topic.

Rise of the Enoji

One of the suggestions made in the IOP’s Energy 11-14 is to use ideograms or icons to represent different energy stores.

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By analogy with the ubiquitous ’emojis’ I suggest that we should call these energy icons Enojis. Who knows, it could just catch on…

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3 Comments

Filed under IoP Energy "Newspeak", Physics, Science

3 responses to “The Renaming of Parts; or, Energy is the New Orange

  1. You ridiculed my attempt at a Latin/NHL emoji and Gerri’s my obsession with emojis in general. Intolerable.m ILYF xxxx

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