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Lesson summary for:
The story behind the science

Overview:
Thirty stories spanning five disciplines help students explore key science concepts through the eyes of the scientists who were involved, while emphasizing the nature and process of science.

Author/Source:
Iowa State University

Grade:
College

Discipline:
Life Science, Physical Sciences, Nature and Process of Science, Earth science, Space science

Time:
Variable

Teaching tips:
Check out the support materials for tips on using the short stories in classrooms and on building discussion around them. In addition, many of these stories can be used to emphasize the differences between the pathways taken by individual scientists.

Concepts:
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Science is both a body of knowledge and the process for building that knowledge.

  • Science aims to build increasingly broad and coherent explanations of the natural world.

  • Science focuses on natural phenomena and processes.

  • Scientists strive to test their ideas with evidence from the natural world; a hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.

  • Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as new ideas surface and new evidence is discovered.

  • Science is ongoing; answering one scientific question frequently leads to additional questions to be investigated.

  • How science works

  • Hypotheses and theories

  • The social side of science

  • The real process of science is complex, iterative, and can take many different paths.

  • The process of science involves observation, exploration, testing, communication, and application.

  • Scientific observations can be made directly with our own senses or may be made indirectly through the use of tools.

  • Scientists test their ideas (hypotheses and theories) by figuring out what expectations are generated by an idea and making observations to find out whether those expectations are borne out.

  • Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence.

  • All scientific tests involve making assumptions, but these assumptions can be independently tested, increasing our confidence in our test results.

  • Scientists often try to generate multiple explanations for what they observe.

  • Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data.

  • Scientists look for patterns in their observations and data.

  • Scientists try to be objective and work to identify and avoid bias.

  • Different scientists may interpret the same data in different ways; data interpretation can be influenced by a scientist's assumptions, biases, and background.

  • Researchers share their findings with the scientific community through scientific publications.

  • Scientists aim for their studies to be replicable.

  • Hypotheses are proposed explanations for a narrow set of phenomena.

  • Hypotheses are usually inspired and informed by previous research and/or observations. They are not guesses.

  • Theories are powerful explanations for a wide range of phenomena.

  • Accepted scientific theories are not tenuous; they must survive rigorous testing and be supported by multiple lines of evidence to be accepted.

  • Science depends on communication within the scientific community.

  • Scientists usually work collaboratively.

  • Scientists scrutinize each other's work through peer review and other processes.

  • Science relies on the accumulated knowledge of the scientific community to move forward.

  • Scientists are influenced by their personal experiences and cultures.

  • Anyone can participate in science, but the pursuit of science as a career often requires extensive formal training.

  • Scientists are creative.

  • Science is embedded in, and influenced by, the broader society.

Teacher background:

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