Works in the series Basic Books in Science: "Science as a Creative Adventure of the Mind" are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
 
For the Love of Science
 
Por Amor a la Ciencia
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The Idea

The series of Basic Books in Science: "Science as a Creative Adventure of the Mind" is being made available for free downloading through the Web sites of the Learning Development Institute and the Pari Center for New Learning. A print version of the books will appear shortly. Details about how to purchase print copies will be announced soon. A Spanish language version of the books is equally under preparation. Series Editor for the Basic Books in Science is Roy McWeeny, who is also the inspired originator of the idea to develop these books. Roy is Emeritus Professor in theoretical chemistry at the University of Pisa, Italy. Angel S. Sanz, a theoretical physicist at the Instituto de Matemáticas y Física Fundamental in Madrid, Spain, is responsible for the Spanish translation. We are interested also in making these books available in the French language and will thus greatly appreciate any offer to help reaching that goal. Please write to ldi@learndev.org if you feel you have the relevant content related and linguistic competence and the volition to serve. This is an entirely voluntary effort on the part of all involved.

The books are intended to serve as a freely available resource for learning to all who are passionate about elevating their level of understanding and consciousness about themselves and their place in the universe. The books are deliberately being developed in a modularized fashion. Each book or module explores a particular theme, starting at the most basic level and then leading the reader to progressively advance her or his understanding to a level that corresponds more or less with that of students who explore these themes at the undergraduate level at universities.

While there is no intention to make these materials match any specific existing curriculum, those involved in teaching and learning according to a particular curriculum may find these modules enlightening. They will often, both in terms of their thematic conception and in regard of the historical perspective they provide, lead the reader to become aware of the broader context of what it means to be a scientist, whether one who belongs to the professional community of scientists or someone who is passionate, serious and disciplined about the deveopment of knowledge without belonging to that specific community.

The Basic Books in Science are being written by renowned scientists who feel committed to the cause of advancing knowledge, insight and understanding as a contribution to the advancement of humanity. They devote their time and intellectual effort voluntarily to this project. The Learning Development Institute wishes to contribute to this effort not only by making these materials available (in collaboration with the Pari Center), it is also interested in contributing to progressively improving the materials and their use.

Formative Evaluation and Improvement

One of the most effective means to improve the quality of learning via structured processes, such as via the use of these modularized books, is by collecting feedback from users and using that feedback for making adjustments in the materials themselves or by providing information that helps users to interact with these materials in better ways. That process is called 'formative evaluation' in the instructional design trade. The Learning Development Institute has taken it upon itself to help the authors and the community of users of these materials to work together in the progressive improvement of their effort to learn and grow together in the love of science. We thus ask users, those who work through the materials independently or in groups or who do so under the guidance of others as well as those who provide guidance to individuals or groups using these materials, to provide us with critical feedback on both the books themselves and the processes in which they use them. What works and what doesn't? Where do you get stuck? What could be done to avoid getting stuck too often or even to get stuck to the extent of giving up? Can these materials be improved to help learners to stay on task more intensely and in a more motivated fashion? Is anything missing? What might be redundant? Do you have any advice on how these materials can best be used in particualr circumstances or for particular purposes?

The above are but a few questions we would like users to respond to. Please feel free to come up with your own questions and concerns and provide us guidance in responding to them. You can do so by writing to ldi@learndev.org, mentioning in the subject field "For the Love of Science: Feedback." We will acknowledge receipt of your feedback and share it with the authors and instructional designers involved.

Note that the modules are the result in the first place of the authors' desire to produce them. They are indeed the product of passion and creation, rather than a designed response to a specific learning need. In applying the principles of instructional design to them we are committed to maintaining the emphasis on creation and passion. Much of the instructional design effort may therefore focus on developing meta-information about the use of the modules so as to help users to most effectively integrate these materials in their learning processes. That way we believe we will be able to best combine the art of writing the modules with the science of designing instruction (and self-instruction) with them.

For the purpose of the above formative evaluation effort, we have had the pleasure to interact, since September 2005, with Keith Langenhoven of the School of Science and Mathematics Education, Faculty of Education, and Monde Mbekwa, Senior Lecturer, Mathematics Methods and Mathematics Education, both based at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, and their students.

Since January 2006, LDI and the authors of the Basic Books in Science have also been collaborating with the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) in Aurora, IL. The IMSA effort was initially spearheaded by IMSA students Cindy Wang and Rae Shih and later, from May 2006 onward, by Lynn Jiang. Christopher Kolar, a faculty member of IMSA, who participated in the 2005 Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind as well as the second colloquium of that name in 2007, took the initiative to develop the collaboration. Through this work, IMSA students became involved in the collaboration, which focuses on testing and editing the books for particular purposes of use, one of which involves children of refugee families resident in the Chicago area.

A further instance of collaboration still under development is with the Institute of Research and Development, Kenyatta University and its Director, Dr. Frederick Gravenir.

Philosophy and Background of the Series

The Series Editor, Roy McWeeny, comments on the background and philosophy of the series in the linked presentation for teachers and sponsors.

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The Series (as planned so far)

The Series, as envisaged at present, will start with the books listed below. Those that are already available can be downloaded as PDF documents in A4 or A5 format by clicking on the relevant link.

Works in the series Basic Books in Science: "Science as a Creative Adventure of the Mind" are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Book 1. Roy McWeeny (Università di Pisa): Number and symbols – from counting to abstract algebras: A4 format / A5 format

Book 2. Roy McWeeny (Università di Pisa): Space – from Euclid to Einstein: A4 format / A5 format

Book 3. Roy McWeeny (Università di Pisa): Relationships, change – and Mathematical Analysis: A4 format / A5 format

Book 3A. John Avery (University of Copenhagen): Calculus and differential equations. A4 format

Book 4. Roy McWeeny (Università di Pisa): Motion and mass – first steps into Physics: A4 format / A5 format (newly updated edition September 27, 2007)

Book 5. Roy McWeeny (Università di Pisa): Atoms, molecules and matter – the stuff of Chemistry: A4 format / A5 format (newly updated edition January 13, 2008)

Book 6. Chris King (Keele University): The planet we live on – the beginning of the Earth Sciences: A4 format (Updated October 30, 2010. Due to the many illustrations, this is a 16 MB file that may take time to download. Users on slower connections may want to download each of the following segments separately: Front matter (including table of contents and list of figures); Chapter 1; Chapter 2; Chapter 3; Chapter 4; Chapter 5; Chapter 6; Glossary; Acknowledgements.

Book 7. Maria Chistophorou (University of Cambridge): Principles of life – from one cell to many

Book 8. Maurijn van der Zee (Leiden University): Evolution – a billion years of animal-building

Book 9. Toni Gabaldon (Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona): Evolution – from molecules to genes and genomes

Book 10. Roy McWeeny (Università di Pisa): More Physics: electric charges and fields – electromagnetism: A4 format (newly updated edition August 31, 2009) / A5 format (July 30, 2009 - updated from A4 draft)

Book 11. Roy McWeeny (Università di Pisa): The quantum revolution. A4 format (Corrective and formative feedback welcome! First posted April 26, 2010. Latest update July 2, 2011.)

Book 12. Roy McWeeny (Università di Pisa): Quantum mechanics of many-particle systems: atoms, molecules – and more. Draft version of the complete book. A4 format (Corrective and formative feedback welcome! Recent most update May 10, 2014.)

Book 13: Jordi Villà i Freixa (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona): Computer modelling of life processes (tentative title)

Occasional publication (not part of the above series)

Roy McWeeny (Università di Pisa): Tensor Techniques in Physics–a concise introduction. A4 format (While related to some of the content discussed in the Basic Books in Science series, this occasional publication is not meant for the faint of heart. It was written with another audience in mind and intended to be part of a larger effort that was never completed. Yet it may serve some of our more advanced readers. Added June 20, 2011.)