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Science is an inspiring process of discovery that helps satisfy the natural curiosity with which we are all born. Unfortunately, traditional instruction that misrepresents science as a body of facts to be memorized and the process of science as a rigid 5-step procedure can deaden students' spirit of inquiry.

Students should come away from our classrooms with an appreciation of the natural world — fascinated by its intricacies and excited to learn more. They should view and value science as a multi-faceted, flexible process for better understanding that world. Such views encourage life-long learning and foster critical thinking about everyday problems students face in their lives. You can cultivate these ways of thinking in your students through science instruction that accurately and enthusiastically communicates the true nature of science and that encourages students to question how we know what we know.

Fortunately, fostering such understandings needn't require reorganizing your entire curriculum. Simple shifts in how content and activities are approached can make a big difference in overcoming student misconceptions and building more accurate views of the process of science. Educational research supports the following strategies for teaching about the scientific endeavor:

  • Make it explicit: Key concepts regarding the nature and process of science should be explicitly and independently emphasized. Engaging in inquiry and studying the history of science are most helpful when the nature-of-science concepts they exemplify are explicitly drawn out in discussion and interactions.

  • Help them reflect: Throughout instruction, students should be encouraged to examine, test, and revise their ideas about what science is and how it works.

  • Give it context, again and again: Key concepts about the nature and process of science should be revisited in multiple contexts throughout the school year, allowing students to see how they apply to real-world situations.
We've assembled a variety of resources to help you increase student understanding of nature and process of science. To improve your own content knowledge, explore Understanding Science 101 and our resource library. To prepare yourself with lesson plans, teaching tips, and pedagogical strategies, visit a Teacher's Lounge or explore the all-level resources listed below and to the right.

  • Guide to Understanding Science 101 Educate yourself about the basics of the nature and process of science

  • Conceptual framework Identify age-appropriate learning goals for your students with this chart of conceptual understandings regarding the nature and process of science.

  • Teaching tools Find tools that will help your students visualize the nature and process of science.

  • Resource database Get lessons, activities, readers, videos, and more.

  • Image library Locate educational images to use in lectures and on handouts.

  • Correcting misconceptions Learn about common student misconceptions so you can help correct them.

  • Misconceptions about teaching Find out what misconceptions some teachers have about teaching about the nature and process of science.

  • Educational research Learn what the educational research says about student learning on the nature and process of science.

Teacher's lounges

K-16 Resources

Guide to Understanding Science 101

Conceptual framework

Teaching tools

Resource database

Image library

How Understanding Science is being used

Correcting misconceptions

Educational research

Alignment with science standards

How Science Works on iTunes

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