Perhaps you have pondered that question. I will provide one answer (of the many available) and give an example here. For this example, I will use a high school class level (ages 14-18), however, the technique may be modified for K (age 5) through U (age 18+-120+).
The article I have selected is one of many. You can repeat such exercises a number of times. I have chosen a review article as it is broader than a typical laboratory report-type article and it will therefore attract more students. The review article selected for today:
Herbal medicine in ancient Egypt
N. H. Aboelsoud
Department of Complementary Medicine Researches and Applications National Research Center- Cairo, Egypt.
E - mail: neveenster at gmail dot com [modified to prevent spam]
Accepted 8 December, 2009
How will this article capture student interest? Well, for one thing, Egypt has been in the news during their lifetimes, so, it is at least something familiar. Most of them know about pyramids, for example. If you ask them about Egypt, they will successfully have something to say.
Second-of-all, the scientist is approachable. Aboelsoud has provided an e-mail address. Even if students don't use it, they feel a connection with the researcher. He uses electronic media like they do.
Wait, we haven't gotten to much science yet... We will. Look, we are already talking about reading a technical journal article.
But some of the students are putting on make-up (What, your students forgot lab safety rules? No. Oh, I see, they've slipped out of the room and down the hall to the "lav" ... What better time than science to apply make-up? At least they took hall passes and will be back soon...).
Oh, and let's get back to the article. The citation information at the top of the page also informs us that the article is available on-line:
- Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 4(2), pp. 082-086, 18 January, 2010
- Available online at: http://www.academicjournals.org/JMP
- ISSN 1996-0875© 2010 Academic Journals
Good. The students will likely enjoy accessing the article on-line, on their cell phones and newer technologies, or at the library computer.
A student that grows houseplants or gardens (or both) might find the section discussing,"Some of the medicines were made from plant materials imported from abroad," will suggest a new direction for science study: botany, economic botany, horticulture, or, even, border patrol.
Someone wishing to be a doctor might be captivated by this, "Thanks to the medical papyri, we know of many of the Ancient Egyptian treatments and prescriptions for diseases," or, " Medical prescriptions were written with high skill. A prescription usually began with a description of the medicine," or many other points in the article. Students could compare and contrast the ancient prescriptions with modern ones, or, research new methods of treating the diseases mentioned with the Ancient Egyptians' treatments.
A history buff or someone who makes paper as a hobby might like all the descriptions of papyri. Or, what about a map to where the plants were found and are found today, might that interest some?
Similarly, a student of ancient languages (Greek, Latin...) might also be interested in the ancient documents written on papyri and can go on to look up the science of preservation of old documents. Or, perhaps be interested in the scientific use of Latin as found in these examples:
The artist among the students may rather wish to draw the plants mentioned than study their Latin names.- Acacia (acacia nilotica) - vermifuge eases diarrhea and internal bleeding, also used to treat skin diseases.- Aloe vera - worms, relieves headaches, soothes chest pains, burns, ulcers and for skin disease and allergies.- Basil (ocimum basilicum) - excellent for heart.- Balsam Apple (malus sylvestris) or Apple of Jerusalem -- Bayberry (Myrica cerifera) - ... [Many more examples are found in the article.].
laxative, skin allergies, soothes headaches, gums and teeth, for asthma, liver stimulant, weak digestion.
The article does talk about adult topics (but many high school students do, too) so you might have to get permission from parents, guardians, schools (and caution is advised) because the article says, "The Kahun Papyrus (Ghalioungui, 1975) is a gynecological text that deals with topics such as the reproductive organs, conception, testing for pregnancy, birth, and contraception. Among those materials prescribed for contraception are crocodile dung, honey, and sour milk (Rosalie and Patricia, 2008)." Of course, some students' interests will be captured by these topics. They might not have known science was so interesting. And, the article could be a good segway to the school nurse's discussion with the students on similar topics. Remember in high school, there are typically some students who become parents so some of their parents might like them to talk more about such topics. Some students will laugh about the crocodile dung and some will need to be directed to their doctors for learning about safe practices, but, they will want to read more of the article. I often worked with high school students who were between the ages of 18 to 21, so, this was less of a problem in terms of topic, but, even 80-year old students had to be guided to health care professionals for education in safe practices.
Let's get back to the students interested in make-up. They might be interested that, "Malachite used as an eye-liner also had therapeutic value. In a country where eye infections were endemic, the effects of its germicidal qualities were appreciated (Andreas et al., 1995). They could start a whole new interest on germs in make-up, or germicidal additions to make-up, or, what germs are, or MERSA, or... Well, you get the idea. Their imaginations can take-off.
Students very interested in religion might find interesting that, "Along with their strong faith in their gods, the Ancient Egyptians used their knowledge of the human anatomy and the natural world around them to treat a number of ailments and disorders effectively. Their knowledge and research is impressive still today, and their work paved the way for the study of modern medicine. The remedies used by Ancient Egyptian physicians came mostly from nature especially medicinal herbs."
A business-oriented student might see this,"A kind of what is called today Quality Control Test was done after preparing a drug; a chemist had to test its quality," and be fascinated that there was an interest in quality control that long ago. S/he might come up with a business idea using herbs.
Math whizzes may wish to calculate the proportion of herbs used in Ancient Egypt that are still used today, or, do further research and calculate ratios of herbs used in different formulas.
Your students will have more ideas about what interests them from this article. Watch them come up with ideas.
Are you ready to read the article yet? Get the point. There are so many ways, in just this one review article to capture the imagination and stimulate greater science learning. Your students will capture your passion, too. Enjoy! By the way, students might want to go on and read the articles this author cited, or, read other articles citing the review article or the articles it reviewed. Students will also what may be a new, "genre," for them, a review article. Soon, the whole school will be talking science.
(c)2013 J S Shipman. Please cite any ideas borrowed from the posts here, including this one and write to the author to get written permission first for uses in text book or money making ventures. Thanks.