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Students reason about a model of Ernst Rutherford's famous experiment supporting the idea of the atomic nucleus. They differentiate between observation and inference and see the role of creativity in the process of science.
Physical Sciences, Nature and Process of Science
One class period
Intertwining nature of science and content instruction might make learning about the nature and process of science more meaningful for students and might help teachers overcome time constraints.
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. (NOS5)
- Science aims to build explanations of the natural world. (P3, P6)
- Science focuses on natural phenomena and processes.
- Science works only with testable ideas. (P2, P3, NOS2)
- Scientists strive to test their ideas with evidence from the natural world; a hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7, NOS2)
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as new ideas surface and new evidence is discovered. (P4, P6, NOS3)
- Scientific ideas cannot be absolutely proven.
- 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. (P4, P6)
- Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)
- Raw data must be analyzed and interpreted before we can tell whether a scientific idea is likely to be accurate or inaccurate. (P4, P5)
- Analysis of data usually involves putting data into a more easily accessible format (visualization, tabulation, or quantification of qualitative data). (P4, P5)
- Scientists are creative. (NOS7)