Development and assessment of web based Curriculum materials for decision making About socio-scientific issues: the example of Trace chemicals in drinking water
Ioannou, Andrie S.
Constantinou, Constantinos P.
Kyza, Eleni A.
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This paper reports on a research effort targeted at helping high-school students develop decision-making skills, in the context of an important socio-scientific issue that is not traditionally included in school curricula. This issue relates to the evaluation of the quality of drinking water on the basis of its ingredients and their concentration. Selecting among different bottled waters becomes complicated because (a) students do not typically interpret the information shown on the label in an appropriate manner (e.g. they cannot identify which of the constituents of the water are harmful for human consumption or which limits are prohibitive); (b) the concentration of each constituent is not common for all commercially available bottled waters; and (c) the content of solvents in the water, varies from one type of water to another. The paper reports on an attempt to design an activity sequence that seeks to help students develop the optimization strategy in the context of selecting the most appropriate bottled water considering a number of factors, such as the physico-chemical composition in terms of essential constituents, the suitability of certain waters regarding special age groups (infants and young children) and labeling requirements. Through this example, we seek to help students appreciate certain aspects of the decision making process, such as the important role of criteria and the need to rely on them in justifying the selection of a certain alternative option. The learning materials that have been developed in the context of this study are webbased and they are embedded in a special inquiry learning environment, the STOCHASMOS platform. The activity sequence engages students in the process of collecting information concerning the quality of drinking water and guides them to process the available information and construct arguments about the quality of drinking water. The paper provides an overview of the activity sequence, its underlying rationale and preliminary results from a pilot implementation.