Great Scientific Debates: Using iMovie to Teach History and the Nature of Scientific Inquiry


Intermediate/Middle School Science/Heath Teaching Practice

Randy Yerrick - Turtleback Elementary, San Diego, CA


One piece of current national science education reform standards is the ability for students to construct scientific arguments and recognize the historical achievements of scientists. It is no longer enough for students to just know the central concepts of science. According to the National Science Education Standards students must understand how and why scientific concepts have survived the test of time.

Why do medicines work?

How did the ancient Greeks know how many planets there were?

What makes things burn?

How do we know if there is an invisible force such as gravity?

What is the smallest particle of matter?

How old is the earth?

These were all questions investigated by 5th grade students at Turtleback Elementary. Using internet research, hands-on inquiry science lessons, and iMovie, students explored some of the greatest historical scientific debates in modernity. Once students had constructed their best arguments in collaborative heterogeneous groups, their science lessons took a more interdisciplinary approach. Students learned to present their cases to their peers using iMovie, simultaneously achieving California’s State Language Arts Standards. Students learned to write, deliver, and even critique speeches and short stories, using iMovie. This exhibit captures the work of two teachers sharing their expertise with children, to teach about the history and philosophy of science. Teachers in a variety of disciplines and grade levels can adapt this specific model for integrating history and other content areas. The project chronology, example storyboards, and other resources are offered in the exhibit to encourage replication of this process with other students.