Activities to Promote Science

We  have been presenting a great variety of puzzles and puzzling oddities at Da Vinci Days, on our Web sites, and at a variety of science events at local colleges and schools.  They are presented because they steer people, young and old, into thinking in unfamiliar ways.

Solving puzzles, resolving  cognitive dissonances, struggling with difficult problems—real problems—are the kind of activities that physics education research has found to be the only route to real understanding of physics and math principles for most students.  The familiar lectures, and the textbook exercise problems, have proved disappointingly ineffective.

Modern students acquire the science and math concepts much the same way as the original discoverers did -- by the "Eureka!" route.

Let's create, try out, experiment with, modify, and disseminate  such activities.

Thirty-six months of monthly "Oddities" on Explore Portland Community (

The green panels to the right are the original puzzlers which appeared at the first of each month.  Their answers, which appeared the following month, are the information panels to the left of the green panels.

Everyone who understands a little science (or a lot) sees that the misunderstandings of science are remarkably persistent, surprisingly pervasive, often preposterous, occasionally pernicious--and that they are usually the pre-scientific ideas that the scientific discoveries replaced.  Modern science (science from the past three or four centuries) is not what it seems at first glance (and sometimes second, third, fourth, etc.)

It's more abstract.  It's more mathematical.  It's the recognition of patterns that are a little harder to see.  These are the deeper patterns, the patterns of patterns of patterns, that mathematicians (like Keith Devlin) work with.

Activities that promote understanding of the persistently misunderstood science and math must help reveal those patterns.

The above (non-abstract) pattern is extremely regular but the human mind isn't wired to see that regularity easily, until we discover a little trick... CLUES HERE

Many human habits can interfere with understanding of science:

A person from Porlock.

This page and the "Porlock" pages are being developed now, March, 2006

Oregonians for Rationality

Da Vinci Days, 2005
Da Vinci Days, 2004
Da Vinci Days, 2003
Da Vinci Days, 2002
Da Vinci Days, 2001
Da VInci Days, 2000

Some common mistakes of pseudoscience:
What are some good names for:
(Set the frame for the discussion.)
Allure Addiction
"Advertiser's sucker bait"
"Cheap and easy wish fullfillment"
"Fool's paradise"
"Disconfirmation good – confirmation bad"
"Child's paradise"
Scalar Limited Ranking
 "Linear visualization"
"One-dimensional mapping"
 "The measure of all things"
"Imagination in a mirror"
Unseen Abstractions
 "Abstraction blind"
Missed Imperatives
"Logic traps"
"Mistake prone"
"Scoffer of science-laws"
"Contempt for science laws"
Falter Point
"Edge of human comprehension"
"Limit of development"
"Understanding awaiting"
 "Math challenged."
"Loan-shark sucker bait"
Inverted Implications
"Irrelevance guided"
Definitions & Descriptions