Big Idea #7: An apparent paradox in idea and workload
Aug 29th, 2007 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching some of the recent YouTube videos featuring student George Hotz. George recently unlocked the iPHONE, making it accessible on mobile networks other than AT&T.

Here’s his reveal of unlock.

What I found most interesting in the discussion, as it relates to my research, is that George came up with the problem himself. He identified a need, knew he had most of the expertise, resources, time, etc to complete the task. But George says that he didn’t work in a vaccuum. He utilized help from other people. He was the project manager – it was his idea – it was his discovery – it was his work. However George knew how to utilize the expertise of other people to help him make his breakthrough.

I am finding that many of my ISEF subjects also match this paradigm. They are extremely knowledgeable in their content area, have come up with a fabulous idea on their own, but utitlize expertise that they might not have. They know how and where to find it.

So the work they do themselves is supported with skills and talents of others who help them.

Caveman summary:

idea – MINE; I get help when I know I need it

A member of the community of practice
Aug 15th, 2007 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

As I continue to painfully transcribe interviews (will I ever be done?), I continue to notice that students talk “shop” with me. They use scientific vocabulary freely, without defining it. I translate this to mean that they feel I understand exactly what they are talking about, and do not feel obligated to talk “down” the information. In general this is truly the case. If a student is talking about potassium nitrate as an oxidizer (the case today) – I know what he or she is talking about. And conversely they know I know.

I think this is good, because it certainly establishes that there is fairly high rapport, but it also says that I am a member of the scientific community. Brown talks about the community of practice and bringing neophytes into that community – a situated cognition theory tenet. This is almost a reverse application.

I would also say that, in terms of qualitative methodology, this demonstrates prolonged involvement. In this case, it is with science and the precollege science research process.

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