Wednesday, December 17, 2008

AQA- Science Without The Science

You may have heard me make fun of the AQA and its Science without the Science syllabus. In case you are still labouring under the idea that Science has something to do with facts, here's a question from their 2007 Biology Paper. (I don't have permission to reproduce it, so feel free to sue me)

Every December the European Commission makes proposals for cod fishing quotas in European Union (EU) waters. These quotas take into account data obtained by scientists.

Scientists calculate what proportion of the cod stock is being caught each year. They do this by working out the numbers in each age-group of cod.

Every year the fishermen say the scientists are exaggerating the danger to the stocks in the North Sea. The scientists say the fishermen are threatening their own long-term livelihoods by ignoring their warnings of a collapse of cod populations.

The scientists say that fishermen go only to parts of the sea where there are a lot of cod, so they get the wrong idea of the number of cod in the whole area.

a) The scientists and the fishermen have different opinions about the size of the cod population.Explain why. (2 Marks)

My answer was that the fishermen need to go fishing to make money, so will therefore claim that there are plenty of fish. The Scientists will say that there is a disaster looming because their funding will not continue for much longer if they don't find a problem.

Unfortunately like a dodgy song at Eurovision, I scored null points. As a poor loser, my next comment was: What subject is this meant to be?


Anonymous said...

Science, particularly the "hard" sciences, is about knowledge. It's about information gleaned from REAL data.

I get the impression, these days, that a proper scientist would fail a GCSE in "Science" as they wouldn't have the empathy required.

The Managers have a hold on science and will not let it go. Science is not about toeing the party line. It's about challenging it. Unfortunately, that can sometimes mean the true scientist is "unco-operative" and (worst of all) "not a team player".

To win the Olympic high jump, you need one person who could jump 8 feet, rather than 8 people who can jump one foot.

DorsetDipper said...

... "Describe how it would feel to be the only odd number in a set of even numbers" ... "

Anonymous said...

oh dearie...what was the 'model' answer then?

Anonymous said...

You seem to assume that both fishermen and scientists will lie or misrepresent their collected information.
Do YOU have any evidence of this?.
Sighing and rolling your eyes doen't count.

Anonymous said...

The bias to come to conclusions which support your sponsor's views is well known in Science and was demonstrated once again by Global Warming research from oil company sponsored scientists compared with 'green group' sponsored ones.

If trained scientists are prone to this effect then fishermen fighting for their livlihooods probably are too.

But what was the correct answer to the question?

Anonymous said...

If you asked the pupils doing this exam something scientific like how does the fish breathe underwater? Would you just get stony silence?

Chris said...

You seem to assume that both fishermen and scientists will lie or misrepresent their collected information.

They won't necessarily lie, but conclusions on both sides will be biased by the self-interest of the parties involved.

AQA - yet another reason to homeschool. :-|