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Task Description | Rubric |  Examples of Task

DeBunked Theories
(adapted from the "JunkYard of Ideas" created  by Mark Michalovic of the Chemical Heritage Foundation).
Points Possible

  • The history of science shows us many examples of scientific concepts that were once widely accepted (in some cases, for hundreds of years) but now have been shown to be untrue.  A classic example of this is the idea that the sun orbits around the earth.  This idea makes a lot of sense since the earth does not seem to be moving at all and we can see the Sun changing its position in the sky.  When Copernicus suggested that the earth moves around the Sun, most people did not believe him.  It wasn't until well after Copernicus died, that enough really accurate measurements of the motions of the sun, moon, stars, and planets were obtained to really prove this idea. Without precise measurements of the motions of the objects in the sky, the sun really does seem to move around the earth.
  • It is now easy to sit back and look at some of these theories and conclude that those people who believed them were stupid and now we are much smarter than they are.  However, this is definitely not the case.  Most of these debunked theories make a lot of sense and were accepted by very intelligent people.  The difference is that now we have a well-developed scientific method which emphasizes the process of data collection and experimentation.  Also, as time moves on, we create better tools to collect the data.
  • In modern times, as scientists gather more and more evidence, many of our theories are shown to be wrong, and end up in the big junkyard of ideas. In investigating the ideas we once embraced, we can gain some understanding of how science works. We can see how an idea may be accepted until an unexpected piece of data overturns everything we thought we knew. In addition, studying the failures of old theories gives us insight into theories that replaced them and just why these theories have come to be accepted.

What To Do:
  • Pick one of the following "Debunked" Ideas from a Unit that you have studied or are currently studying.
      • Unit 2: Phlogiston Theory
      • Unit 2: Dalton's Theory that the formula for water is HO.
      • Unit 8: Colloidal theory of polymeric materials (Harries Theory about rubber)
  • Research the theory using a wide variety of sources until you thoroughly understand it. 
  • Type a 2-5 page paper on the debunked theory.  Be sure to include: 
    1. a description of the phenomenon that the theory attempted to explain
    2. an explanation of the theory in your own words.
    3. a description of the experiments and/or observed phenomena that led to the theory's downfall.
    4. a description (in your own words) of the theories that are now used to explain the phenomenon that your disproven theory once explained.
    5. the evidence that supports the new theory.
    6. the names of any famous scientists support your team's assigned theory.  Give their names and discuss in a few sentences some of that person's more lasting contributions to science.
    7. internal citations and a works cited page in proper MLA format.

  • Submit your project by logging in to Mr. Arrow's Moodle Site.
    • Scroll down to the CLC Project Drop Box section.
    • Click on the Research Question link and upload your file
ideas Words of Wisdom :

Rubric for Debunked Theories Reports (26 points)

Report Scorecard

Understanding of Phenomena Explained
The report does not mention the phenomena explained by the theory.
The report briefly mentions the phenomenon but gives few details.
The report mentions the phenomenon, giving some details.
The report describes the phenomenon, using great detail.

Understanding the Assigned Theory
The report does not describe the assigned theory.
The report describes the theory in limited detail.
The report describes the theory in more detail, but it does not mention what evidence was used to support the theory.
The report describes the theory in good detail and cites the evidence that supported it.

Understanding Evidence Against the Theory
The report does not describe the evidence against theory.
The report describes the contrary evidence in limited detail.
The report describes the contrary evidence in some detail.
The report describes the contrary evidence in good detail.

Understanding Modern Theories
The report does not mention newer explanations that have arisen to replace the  assigned theory.
The report mentions the newer theories, but it gives little detail or evidence.
The report describes the newer theories, but does not cite evidence.
The report describes the newer theories in detail and cites the evidence that supports them.

Historical Understanding
The report does not cite who supported and didn't support the theory, when the theory was popular, or when it was disproven.
The report includes one or two of the four items listed.
The report includes three or four of the items listed.
The report includes all the items listed, and it mentions some of the successes of one or more of the theory's supporters.

Well organized
Report lacks topic sentences and has no logical sequence.
Report has only one topic sentence and its sequence is confusing
Report includes some topic sentences and is somewhat sequential
Every section begins with a clearly stated topic sentence, and the sections follow a logical sequence.

Internal Citations
No internal citations are present
A few internal citations are present, but not done correctly.
Internal citations are appropriate but with a few formatting errors.
Internal citations are appropriate and formatted correctly..

Works Cited Page
No works cited page is present
Works cited page contains many errors.
Works cited page contains one or two minor formatting errors.
Works cited page is in proper MLA format.

Correct grammar and spelling
Very frequent grammar and/or spelling errors.
A few grammar and/or spelling errors.
All grammar and spelling are correct

Not Available (only worth 2 points)


26 points 

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