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Periodic Table of the Sciences

David Harriman’s Logical Leap: Induction in Physics won’t be available for purchase until this summer. But an interesting application of Harriman’s work on science to the development of an innovative science curriculum is available now—thanks to the Falling Apple Science Institute (which Harriman co-founded with Tom VanDamme). The application is called the Periodic Table of the Sciences.

The Periodic Table of the Sciences is a graphical description of Falling Apple’s vision for science education. Within each column, the table shows the stages of development (from bottom to top) of the five major theories that are essential to a basic education in science. The order of the columns (from left to right) reflects the fact that each theory is a prerequisite for the next.

The concepts of science have a necessary order. Kepler’s laws of planetary motion must come before Newton’s law of universal gravitation, electric charge before atomic theory, and atomic theory before modern biology. This logical order is shown in the table—vertically in the development of each theory and horizontally in the progression from one theory to the next. Thus, the Periodic Table of the Sciences captures the integration and the hierarchy of scientific knowledge.

For students and teachers, the table serves as a reference that demands an answer to two crucial questions: what previous knowledge does an idea rest on, and where does the new knowledge lead?

Each box, for four of the five major theories, currently contains a brief view of what Falling Apple Science thinks should be taught at that stage of knowledge. This provides a glimpse of an inductive K-12 science curriculum and its logical order. For a more in-depth analysis, see Harriman’s articles in TOS:

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