Conversations in Science
for K-12 Educators

A program conceived and organized by the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the collaboration of the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Edgewood Sonderegger Science Center.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 at 4:00 p.m.

What's So Special About Science?

Dr. Rodney Schreiner
Department of Chemistry, UW-Madison

About the conversation:

Over the past five years, each Conversation in Science has been just that, in science. Inaugurating the sixth year of the Conversations, we will instead have a conversation about science. The popular press has been filled with reports of controversies that involve the nature of scientific knowledge. (Perhaps the most notorious example of these is the debate over the relative scientific merits of Darwinian evolution and intelligent design.) In this conversation we will examine science to see what distinguishes it from other human activities. We will review how science has been described by scientist-philosophers and philosophers of science, and how their views have evolved (!) over the course of the 20 th Century. What characteristics of science should we teachers of science be communicating to our students, so they recognize what is and what is not science?

About the professor:

Rodney Schreiner received his bachelor's degree from Marquette University , majoring in mathematics, chemistry, and philosophy. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied inorganic photochemistry. He has taught introductory courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 25 years, and he has received several teaching awards, including the James W. Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award last year. In addition, Dr. Schreiner has contributed extensively to undergraduate education and to the development and effective use of chemical demonstrations. He is the principal coauthor, with Bassam Shakhashiri, of Chemical Demonstrations: A Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry , Volumes 1-4, The University of Wisconsin Press. He has produced a variety of television programs dealing with chemistry and science, some of which have been featured on PBS. He designed the automated interactive chemistry demonstrations that are on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Dr. Schreiner also presents numerous science entertainments in such places as shopping malls, science museums, school gymnasiums, and at the Disney Epcot Center . He is also an avid gardener (flowers), an enthusiastic (some say gourmet) cook, a music lover (classical), and art collector (mostly regional).