Due to time constraints, most courses for pre-service and in-service teachers do not cover all of the concepts included at the undergraduate level of the Understanding Science conceptual framework. This list provides a “top twenty” subset of concepts that should be the focus of instruction at this level.
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 works only with testable ideas.
- Scientists strive to test their idea 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.
How science works
- The real process of science is complex, iterative, and can take many different paths.
- 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 use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, computational, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data.
- Scientists look for patterns in their observations and data.
- Different scientists may interpret the same data in different ways; data interpretation can be influenced by a scientist’s assumptions, biases, and background.
- Accepted scientific theories are not tenuous; they must survive rigorous testing and be supported by multiple lines of evidence to be accepted.
The social side of science
- 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 is global and diverse.
- Anyone can participate in science, but the pursuit of science as a career often requires extensive formal training.
- Scientists are creative.
What has science done for you lately?
- Science builds knowledge about the world but people decide how that knowledge should be used.
- Scientific knowledge helps us make decisions that affect our lives every day.
A scientific approach to life
- Problem-solving and decision-making benefit from a scientific approach.