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How science works

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Overview:
This Science in Action video uses the Understanding Science Flowchart to follow arachnologist Charles Griswold and colleagues as they describe the process involved in an exciting new spider discovery.

Author/Source:
California Academy of Sciences

Grade:
College

Discipline:
Life Science, Nature and Process of Science

Time:
10 minutes

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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 look for patterns in their observations and data.

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

  • 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.

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

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

  • Scientific knowledge helps us make decisions that affect our lives every day.

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