Gordon Berry

Gordon Berry with the measurement devices

Gordon Berry - Scholar in Residence

Gordon Berry is a physicist who is currently at Woodstock for two months. You may wonder what brought a Professor of Physics from the University of Notre Dame in America to Woodstock? The answer lies in the work he has been doing in his home in Indiana that goes beyond physics to how science is taught in elementary and high school.

One aspect of his stay is to discuss and show by example ways of teaching/learning science in 'Guided Inquiry Classrooms'. Gordon explained " By guided inquiry, we mean that students have much more of a role in the classroom learning process. Each lesson should include the three parts: problem setting, investigating, and problem-solving (PIP). The first part engages the students, the second part encourages students to devise an experiment and produce data. The third part involves analysis, evaluation, and comparing of the data, finding the general underlying concepts, the lesson objectives, and connecting the lesson concepts to the students' own life experiences. Most teachers at Woodstock already use some variants of Guided Inquiry in their classes. It is exhilarating to find so many teachers really committed to helping students to have inquiring minds and to become authentic thinkers."

Another way Gordon is helping the Science department is giving a new lease of life to measurement devices (called Vernier probes), which the Science Fund, established by alumni, purchased for the school. The devices can measure and record lots of things such as temperature, electrical current and voltage, sounds, humidity, light, and spectra. The latest variants can be connected to computers using the appropriate software. Now that most students have laptop computers, the Vernier probes become much more useful in and out of the classrooms; groups of students can independently make and record measurements. Gordon has been working with the science teachers to develop their use across all grades (5th to 12th) in physics, biology and chemistry. By the end of the two months, it is hoped that teachers and students will be as familiar with the probes as they are with their cell phones.

Gordon reflected on his time so far at Woodstock "Although it has been a cold start both in and out of the classroom temperature-wise, it is clear that Woodstock is a hotbed of learning. I am sure I will be disappointed to leave, and will want to return."

Mr Ray Husthwaite, Head of Science at Woodstock commented "We welcomed Professor Berry at the start of the new term as professor in residence to help us make better use of our Vernier technology and to give us some insights into the 'guided inquiry' methods he is expert in. It has been rewarding so far to see that we are very much 'on message' as far as our philosophy and practice are concerned and it has been fascinating to see this formalised in his approaches to scientific inquiry. We are grateful for his contribution and look forwards to the remainder of his stay as we further develop our skills with the Vernier equipment."

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