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Lesson summary for:
Introducing the Understanding Science flowchart

Overview:
Students participate in a quick activity and discuss whether they were doing science. They then read a story about Walter Alvarez, discuss the process of science, and trace his scientific journey using the Science Flowchart.

Author/Source:
UCMP

Grade:
College

Discipline:
Nature and Process of Science, Earth science

Time:
90 minutes

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

  • What is science?

  • 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.

  • Science works only with testable ideas.

  • 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.

  • Scientific ideas cannot be absolutely proven.

  • Because it has been tested, scientific knowledge is reliable.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Science depends on communication within the scientific community.

  • Scientists usually work collaboratively.

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

  • The scientific community motivates researchers in their investigations by providing recognition and, sometimes, a sense of competition.

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

  • The scientific community is global and diverse.

  • Scientists are creative.

Teacher background:

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