By Rita Holmes,2014-04-10 21:34
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understanding science

    Unit 3 Understanding Science




    1 Have the basic sense of science

    2 Learn the difference between narration and exposition

    3 Grasp the structure of the text

Step One:

    Recording on Stephen Hawking:

    1 Play the tape twice, then ask the question:

    What makes Hawking’s achievement so remarkable?

    (The contrast between the strength of his mind and the weakness of his body.) 2 Ss write down on a sheet of paper some of the scientific and technological discoveries that have changed or will change the way people live. When they finish, T may invite some of them to read out to the class. T writes down some discoveries on the blackboard.

    3 Pointing at the discoveries noted down on the blackboard, T asks Ss:

    ----In what ways do these discoveries change out lives for the better?

    ----In what ways do these discoveries change our lives for the worse?

    (Example: Television provides people with quick and easy access to information, education, entertainment, etc., but it also exposes children to violence, deprives families of time and the will to communicate with each other, etc…)

    4 Comments: The same scientific and technological discovery can bring us good things and bad things. According to Stephen Hawking, author of this text, it’s up to us to make changes head towards changing our lives for the better. If you turn to the Language Sense Enhancement section after this text, you will find a quotation that expresses the same idea: “People must understand that science is inherently neither a potential for good nor for evil. It is a potential to e harnessed by man to do his bidding.”

Step Two:

    Cultural Notes

    1 Stephen Hawking (1942-):

    A British scientist who has greatly influenced people’s ideas on the origins of the universe. He has devoted much of his life to probing the space-time described by general relativity and the singularities where it breaks down. And he’s done most of his work while confined to a wheelchair, brought on by the progressive neurological disease. Hawking is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a post once held by Isaac Newton.

    In the late 1960s, Hawking proved that if general relativity is true and the universe is expanding, a singularity must have occurred at the birth of the universe. In 1974 he first recognized a truly remarkable property of black holes, objects from which nothing was supposed to be able to escape. He has written the international bestseller A Brief History of Time. The book

    spent more than four years on the London Sunday Times bestseller list---- the longest run for any

    book in history.


    Unit 3 Understanding Science

    2 Frankenstein:

     A novel(1818) by an English writer Mary Shelley (1797-1851). It is the story of a Swiss scientist, Dr. Frankenstein, who makes a living creature from pieces of dead bodies. The creature is like a man, but stronger, and although it is gentle at first, it later attacks and kills several people close to Frankenstein. There have been many films based on the story and variations of it: Everybody was dressed up as a ghost, a vampire or Frankenstein’s monster.

    3 Albert Einstein (1879-1955):

    thA physicist, born in Germany, who was possibly the greatest scientist of the 20 century. In

    1905 he published his theory of relativity. This led to the equation giving the relationship between mass and energy, E=mc2, which is the basis of atomic energy. Einstein suggested how it could be used for making weapons, but after World War II he spoke publicly against nuclear weapons. By 1917, he had become famous all over the world. He was given the Nobel Prize for physics in 1921. When Hitler came to power, Einstein, who was Jewish, went to live in the US, becoming a US citizen in 1940. In 1933 he wrote a book called Why War? with Sigmund Freud. He became a

    professor at Princeton University in 1934, and he spent the rest of his life looking, without success, for a theory that combined those of gravitation and electromagnetism. In 1952 he was offered the presidency of Israel, but didn’t accept it.

Step Three:

    The Style Differences between Narration and Exposition:

    1 Ss fill the table by comparing the first 10 lines of both All the Cabbie Had was a Letter and Public Attitudes toward Science:

    Text A Paragraph Sentence Simple or any any any

    rdlength length compound passive dialogue? 3-person

    sentences voice? narrator?

    Unit2 shorter shorter simple no yes no

    Unit3 longer longer compound yes no yes

    2 Differences:

     It is important to note the style differences between narration and exposition. Expository writings usually employ longer paragraphs in which there are longer and more involved sentences. Simply glance over the first page of Text A, Unit2 and the first page of Text A, Unit3, and you will see the latter is more closely packed than the former. For the purpose of objectivity, third-person narration is often adopted in exposition. Meanwhile, sentences in the passive voice appear regularly.

     A typical piece of expository writing begins with a statement of opinion, then goes on to give supporting details. In this text, an opinion is advanced in Para3, the public need education science so as to make informed decisions on their own fate. In the following paragraphs the author details the ways to educate the public. In the last paragraph a conclusion is supplied----human civilization will survive if the public understand science well.

     If we look closer at Part II of this text, we will find it to be a mini-exposition, its topic being how to educate the public in science. Afterwards three concrete solutions are proposed. They are: science education in schools, replacing equations with words and diagrams, and making use of popular media such as newspapers, magazines and above all TV.


    Unit 3 Understanding Science

    Step Four:

    Text Structure:

    1 Exposition is the process of making a statement and then supporting it with evidence. Then, T draws Ss’ attention to Text Organization Exercise 1, where this text is divided into three parts and the last paragraph is identified as the conclusion.

    2 In expository writing, the structure of a paragraph is usually similar to that of the text, i.e., the topic sentences are presented in the first or second sentences of a paragraph, followed by supporting details. T then asks Ss to glance quickly over the first and second sentences of the first four paragraphs, and answer the following questions:

    ----Where is it best to divide Part1 from Part2? (Part2 starts from Para4)

    ----Where in Part1 does Hawking present his view? ( in Para3, “…the public needs to have a basic understanding of science, so that it can make informed decisions and not leave them in the hands of experts.”)

    ----Where does Hawking raise a question about how to give the public a basic understanding of science? (first sentence of Para4)


    1 Study the vocabulary and Ex p72-76

    2 Learn the first two paragraphs of the text by heart, or choose other interesting material to recite.


    Unit 3 Understanding Science




    1 Grasp the language points.

    2 Try to paraphrase difficult sentences.

    3 Organize a debate.

Step One:

    Language Study (Part1)

    1 attitude:?manner or way one thinks about, behaves toward, or feels toward sb. or sth. ~to/towards

    eg: She shows a very positive attitude to her work.

     ?way of positioning the body

    eg: The photographer has caught him in the attitude of prayer.

    2 likely:?probable (when functioning as an adj., the word is often used in the hollowing patterns:

    it is likely that…/ be likely to do sth.

    eg: Economists say that the quick economic growth is likely to continue throughout the 2010s.

    probably (when used as an adv, the word is often preceded by “most”, “more than” or ?


    eg: It is reported that another sandstorm will very likely come in the next 24 hours. 3 do without: manage to survive, continue, or succeed although you do not have sth. you need,

    want, or usu. have.

    eg: I cannot afford a car, so I guess I’ll have to do without. (vi.)

     We had to do without fresh fruit. (vt.)

    4 highly:?very

    eg: Mr. Smith was a highly successful salesman.

     It seems highly likely that she will take the job.

     ?to a high level or standard

    eg: Most of the people present at the meeting are highly educated women.


    5 anyway: (used to change the subject of a conversation or to support an idea or argument)


    eg: We ought to spend less on defence missiles, which I reckon are pretty useless anyway.


    6 put/turn the clock back: return to a situation that used to exist, usually because the present

    situation is unpleasant.

    eg: The employment bill in which women are not allowed to take jobs will put the clock back fifty


     Forget all about it and look to the future; you can’t turn the clock back.

    7 cut off: stop providing (sth.)

    eg: Water and electricity supplies in the city have been cut off because of the American air attacks.

     Their phone has been cut off because they haven’t paid the bill.


    Unit 3 Understanding Science


    8 bring about: make (sth.) happen

    eg: Jealousy in a relationship is often brought about by a lack of trust. 9 moreover: in addition to what has been said; further; besides

    eg: Local people would like a new road. Moreover, there are good economic reasons for building


    10 inquire: seek information by questioning; ask (also spelled “enquire”; sometimes followed by

    about or wh-clause)

    eg: I rang up to inquire about train times.

     He asked for his key and inquired whether there had been any messages for him. 11 …and human initiative and inventiveness are such that even this wouldn’t succeed.

    (As human initiative and inventiveness do exist, even this way to suppress anything new worldwide would fail.)

    such…that: used to give a reason or explanation for sth.

    eg: The nature of the job was such that he felt obliged to tell no one about it.

     His manner was such that he would offend everyone he met.

    initiative: ?the ability to make decisions and take action without waiting for sb. to tell you what

    to do

    eg: I wish my son would show a bit more initiative.

     The workers are able to solve the problems on their own initiative.

     ?take the initiative: be the first person to take action to improve a situation or

    relationship, esp. when other people are waiting for sb. else to do sth. eg: Don’t stand around waiting for someone else to take the initiative.

    12 slow down: become slower; make sb. or sth. slower.

    eg: There is no cure for the disease, although drugs can slow down its rate of development. 13 rate:?the speed at which sth. happens over a period of time

    eg: the rate at which hair grows can be very slow.

     ?a certain amount of one thing considered in relation to a unit of another thing eg: Britain held the record of having the highest divorce rate in Europe.

     Businesses are closing all over that country at a rate of fifty a week. 14 ensure: make sure (+n./that-clause)

    eg: This new treaty will ensure peace.

     Come early to ensure that you get a seat.

    *insure; assure

    15 informed: having or showing knowledge

    eg: Science is now enabling us to make more informed choices about how we use common drugs.

     According to informed sources, he has been enrolled by Harvard University. *inform v.?tell: ~sb. of/about sth. ~sb. that-clause

    eg: Have you informed the police that there’s been an accident?

     ?give evidence or make an accusation against sb: ~against/on sb. eg: One of the criminals informed against/on the rest of the gang.

    16 At the moment, the public is in two minds about science.

    (Now the public can’t decide whether they need science or not.)

    at the moment: now, at the present moment


    Unit 3 Understanding Science

    eg: I’m rather busy at the moment; could I call you back?

    in two minds (about sth.): unable to decide whether or not you want sth. or want to do sth. eg: I think she’s in two minds about whether to accept his present or not.

    17 steady:?constant

    eg: The government’s policies have brought a period of steady economic growth with falling



    eg:----“That ladder doesn’t look very safe.”

     ----“Oh well, it is steady as a rock.”

    18 It is also an important element behind support for the Green parties.

    (The public’s distrust of science is also an important factor leading to support for the political parties whose main concern is to protect the environment.)

Step Two:

    Questions on Part2

    1 In your own words, explain what Hawking means by saying that “the public is in two minds about science”.

    (The public is interested in the improvements of life brought by science, but it also fears that scientists may also cause it harm.)

    2 What does “this interest” in line 33 refer to?

    (The public’s interest in science)

Step Three:

    Debate: Should cloning of human beings be banned?

    1 Ss are divided into two groups, each assigned a position either for or against human cloning: 2 Each group brainstorm to find out arguments in their favor, and propose counter-arguments against what the opposite side might bring up.

    3 Ss debate.


    1 Dictionary work: With the help of the dictionary, Ss learn the rest of the new words in Part1. 2 Writing: Read Writing Strategy (p87), then pick one or two scientific discoveries that have great impact on our lives and write an essay on How science Changes Our Lives.


    Unit 3 Understanding Science




    1 Learn the structure of expository essay

    2 Try to translate short paragraphs

    3 Know the rules of word formation

    4 Understand the concept of antonym

Step One:

    Text Structure (Part2)

    The structure of this part goes like that of the whole text, from introducing a topic (What can be

    done to give the public the scientific background it needs to make informed decisions on science?)

    to giving supporting details.

    The author emphasizes two aspects:

    1 The importance of the teaching of science in schools.

    2 The role mass media can play, especially what television can do.

Step Two:

    Language Study (Part2,3)

    1 basis: (pl. bases) ? the facts or ideas from which sth. can be developed; foundation (usu. Used

    as a singular noun, followed by for or of)

    eg: The video will provide a basis for class discussion.

     ? the circumstance that provides a reason for some action or opinion (usu.

    followed by of or that-clause)

    eg: You must stay at home, on the basis of the medical reports we have received.

     On the basis that recognizing the problem is halfway to a solution, we should pay much

    attention to his comments.


    2 lie in: exist or be found in sth.

    eg: His skill lies in his ability to communicate quite complicated ideas.

     The play’s interest lies in the questions it raises about marriage.

    3 But in schools science is often presented in a dry and uninteresting manner.

    (But in schools science is often taught in a dull an uninteresting way.) 4 by rote: by heart; from memory, without thinking of the meaning 5 in terms of: as regards (sth.); expressed as (sth.)

    eg: In terms of customer satisfaction, the policy can’t be criticized.

     The work is not very profitable in terms of cash, but I am getting valuable experience from it.


    *come to terms (达成协议,和解) in the long term (从长远来说)

    6 brief: ?using few words; concise

    eg: The teacher of English told the students to write a brief description of a typical problem they

    had recently met with.


    Unit 3 Understanding Science

     ?lasting or taking a short time

    eg: My brother once made a brief appearance on television. 7 Maybe I would have sold twice as many copies without it.

    (If my popular book had not included Einstein’s equation, maybe I would have sold twice as many


    8 tend: ?be likely to happen or have a particular characteristic or effect *tendency n.

    eg: Some people tend to get up later at weekends.

     ?take care of or look after

    eg: In Moscow, the nurses are tending the wounded hostages after the terrorist action.

    9 in the form of: ?having the shape of

    eg: The lane was in the form of a big “S”.

     ?existing in a particular form

    eg: They received a benefit in the form of a tax reduction. *take the form of (以……的形式)

    eg: The training took the form of seminars and lectures. (训练的形式是讨论会和讲座。)

    *take form (成形,具有可见形状)

    10 precise: exact

    eg: The precise location of the air crash was established. 11 sufficient: as much as is needed, enough (often followed by for or to do)

    eg: There was not sufficient evidence to prove that he was guilty.

     His income is sufficient to keep him comfortable.

    12 convey: make (ideas, feelings, etc.) known to another

    eg: Their bright eyes and smiling faces conveyed the impression that they were very excited.

     Words cannot convey how delighted I am that you’ll come and spend the weekend with us.

    13 put across: cause to be understood

    eg: Good teachers are the ones who are able to put things across well.

     The government needs to put across the message that the economy is starting to recover.

    *put aside (省下,储存) put forward (提出,建议)

    14 proportion: ?comparative part or share of a whole; fraction

    eg: The proportion of the population still speaking the dialect is very small.

     ?relation of one thing to another in quantity, size, ratio: ~ of sth. to sth. eg: The proportion of imports to exports is worrying the government. 15 Only television can reach a truly mass audience.

    (Unlike popular books and magazine articles, television science programs have a rally large


    16 fit into: be part of a situation, system, or plan

    eg: College English videos are designed to fit into the syllabus.

     The new college courses fit into a national education plan. 17 entertain: ?give pleasure to

    eg: Children’s television programs not only entertain but also teach.

     ?have as a guest

    eg: According to the school regulations, women students are not allowed to entertain men in their


    Unit 3 Understanding Science


    *entertainment n.

    *amuse v.

    18 …hence the sick joke…

    (…therefore the sick joke spreads that…)

    hence: ?as a result, therefore (+a clause/noun group/a./ad./prepositional phrase)

    eg: He’s an extremely private person; hence his reluctance to give interviews.

     The Democratic Party was divided and hence very weak.

     ?from this time

    eg: I don’t know where I will be six months hence.

Step Three:

    Sentence Structures

    Follow the examples and finish exercises (p76)

    1 as many as/as much as

    2eg: If I did not include Einstein’s famous equation, E=mc in my book, I would have sold twice as many copies (as I had sold).

    2 as be +p.p.

    eg: But the public also has a great interest in science…as is shown by the large audience for

    science fiction.

Step Four:


     Finish the paragraph translation in class, then one or two of the students will put down their

    work on the blackboard for the rest students to discuss its strength and weakness.


    1 Study word formation and finish exercises: p74 2 Study antonyms and finish exercises: p75-76

    3 Read Text B.


    Unit 3 Understanding Science




    1 Improve Ss’ writing skills

    2 Help Ss broaden scope of reading material

    3 Practice pronunciations

Step One:

    Composition Correction

    Students form five groups and correct several pieces of composition, then every group chooses the best one and read it to the whole class, other member of the group tell Ss why they choose this one as the best one. The audience think how they can make it better.

Step Two:

    Home-reading Checking

    1 General impression about the text

    2 Understand difficult sentences

    1) The scientific method, as many of us learned in school, is a gradual process that begins with a

    purpose or a problem or question to be answered.

    2) Other researchers will try to repeat the experiment, and the more often it works, the better the

    chances that the result is sound.

    3) As President Clinton said that day, the possibility that life existed on Mars billions of years

    ago was potentially one of the great discoveries of our time.

    4) Some concluded that the “evidence of life” was mostly contamination from Antarctic ice or

    that there was nothing organic at all in the rock.

Step Three:

    Extra Reading:

    Choose a passage from the recent newspaper or magazine to read together with the students, then have some discussion on the theme of the passage.

Step Four:

    Practice Pronunciations: vocabulary of Unit4.


    1 Preview unit4.

    2 Try to find I have a dream (by Martin Luther King) and read it.


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