What is Science? How Science Works Full Information

Hello, the learning targets for this lesson are that the student will be able to summarize the discipline of science by describing what science is, explaining the goal of science and describing how science works. Before you start working through this, please make sure that you have done the reading and reading reflection called What is Science? How does it work?

For this post you will need to go ahead and go into schoology and download this document: What is science? How does it work? Um and be prepared to have that out to work with as we go through the following slides. All right, to start off with what I’d like you to do is based on the reading that you did prior to this uh set of slides. Go ahead and define What is Science in your own words. Go ahead and put that answer into the box on your handout. When you’re done, come back here and restart the Post.

What is Science

Alright, so hopefully you got something down. A working definition that I oftentimes use for What is Science? is this right here. Science is a process to learn about the natural world, and a collection of claims or evidence that come from that process.

Okay, so it’s a way of learning, and also a bunch of facts, a bunch of information, so you can think about the process as being things like experiments and communicating with other scientists, and you can think about the collection of claims and evidence as facts like dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. Alright? So look back at the definition you wrote and it doesn’t need to be these exact words, but do you have both of those ideas in it? Do you have the idea that science is a process, snd also that science is a collection of facts or information or knowledge about the world around us? If not, adjust your definition at this point so that it does include both of those ideas. So if that’s what science is, what does science want to do? Well, this brings us to the goal of science.

Okay? So through that process, what it wants to do is, it wants to provide us with explanations for why things happen in the natural world using the best evidence available. So you can go ahead and get that definition down in your box number two on your handout. Um as you look at that definition, you’ll notice that there are two big words in there: one, explanations and the other one, evidence.

The two e words. So sometimes we use other words for those two words. So explanations might also be called claims or sometimes they’re called inferences or hypotheses or theories. We’ll probably focus mostly on using the word claims in this class, but think about when you hear a scientist say I have a hypothesis about this, or I have a theory about this or an inference about it. What they’re talking about is they have an explanation. Okay? The evidence that there is might, is oftentimes also called data or observations or support, and in science those can come from a lot of different sources.

They can come from studies. They can come from experiments. They can come from review of work that other people have done. They can come from case studies where they actually look at just specific things along the way, but all of those are types of evidence that can be used in science to support or the, the explanations that scientists produce. So from that definition, one other point that I want to make sure that we understand very clear, uh clearly, is that science doesn’t prove anything.

How Science Works

if you ever see an article or see something where someone that says or uh advertisement where someone says science has proven okay, oh, here’s one, “Science has proven that birthdays are good for you”. so this word is the word that’s problematic. Science doesn’t ever prove anything. That’s not the point. That’s not the goal of science. Again, science just provides the best description and explanation based on evidence. All right? Which allows science and the explanations that come from it to change as new evidence comes along.

it’s one of the most powerful things about science is that science, scientists are willing to change their mind if there’s better evidence than what they have currently. Okay? This can be sort of related back to our world right now because if you think back about things that we knew very, very early in the pandemic, lots of the ideas or guidance that science have have changed since those very first days of the pandemic.

Why? Because there have been more studies and more evidence gathered that have made stronger cases for one point or another. So again, science doesn’t prove anything, but it does come up with some pretty strong awesome explanations, especially over time, and those, just because it doesn’t prove, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t trust or believe in science.

because science, those, this process has produced some really, really good explanations over time that have been really, really useful. For example, if you have a cell phone that that you carry around and use every single day, all of the electronics and the fact that that works come from years and years of scientists developing explanations about electricity and how electricity works and as a result of that, we can code information in electricity right now. Wow, huge idea, right? But again, none of those ideas that make our cell phones work have been proven. They just have a ton of evidence to support them.

goal of science is to provide explanations

If you haven’t already, make sure you provide an answer to the question in box number three based on what you just heard. All right, in box number four, it asks us to think about the reading again last night, and in the reading, they talked about how science works. Okay? So if the goal of science is to provide explanations, how do those expedite, explanations come about alright? and in the reading they suggested that this is a way that teachers often teach students about how science works, but in reality it’s more like this diagram over here, which was in your reading and uh you can go ahead and take a look at here as well.

Okay, so what I’d like you to do just for a second is I’d like you to compare and contrast these two diagrams of the scientific process. How are they alike? How are they different? So compare: How are they alike? Contrast: How are they different? Take a few minutes, a couple minutes to go ahead and fill in some things for the Compare and Contrast and then come back to the post and we’ll talk about it.

Okay, so let’s start with compare, how are they alike? Well, one thing that students oftentimes will tell me is that they, you can see a lot of the same words in here. So make an observation. Yep. That’s definitely in both. Ask a question. That’s definitely in both. Uh, make a hypothesis.

Oh hypotheses. That’s definitely in both. Uh conduct an experiment. So it sort of talks about that here, right? It talks about uh going ahead and collecting or gathering data. That’s kind of a way of conducting an experiment. Drawing conclusions. Right? And so that comes in two, that’s interpreting data, and finally reporting your results. So that is this stuff down here for both of them.

So you can see the same ideas in both of them, but that’s kind of where the similarities end. So, how are they different? Well lots of different ways, right? This one over here is very linear. It makes it look like you start here, you end here and you’re all done. Okay? The way that science really works is much more iterative or circular or non-linear as we say.

science process

Right? We can start the science process of science pretty much anywhere in this diagram, and we might go from here to here and there to there and maybe back to here and over to here and sometimes back up to there depending upon where we are and what the answers and what the evidence is telling us. A second major difference that you may have noticed is that this circle down here has no counterpart on the other side.

This says Benefits and Outcomes, and so this is really how science connects to the real world because there is a real world connection. There are all kinds of things that we can do with science, developing technology, informing policy, satisfying people’s curiosity, building knowledge.

All of those are things, solving everyday problems, are things that we can do with science that is really an important part of that because it leads to more exploration and discovery. It leads us to testing more ideas, etc

Okay? the other thing that’s not real big over here is it says reporting your results, but it doesn’t really get into the fact that science is really a human endeavor, and so it requires us to communicate and talk to other people, um, and deal with other scientists and, and other people in general just to make sure that our, one, our data is good and also so that we can combine our efforts to come up with stronger and stronger and stronger ideas.

And finally, the last thing that I would say is a is a contrast, is that the real process of science is much, much, much more complex than maybe the process of science you have been taught before. Lots of different ways and lots of different directions that can go, lots of different starting places, lots of different places where a person might choose to end the work that they’re doing as well. So take a moment if you haven’t already, and add some more ideas to item box number four if you haven’t already. All right next iId like you to spend a minute or two again looking at the blown up version of the How Science Works diagram.

important about it

This is in your handout. It’s there in English and in Spanish. So if that, having a Spanish helps you, you can use that as well, but what I’d like you to do is, I’d just like you to look through it, look at it, and try to make connections all right? and in the end what I’d like you to do is, in box number five, write down three observations.

Try to make them somewhat sophisticated if you can uh, but any three observations about the diagram. What do you notice about it? What do you think’s important about it? Etc. Ah, uh, what uh, yes, any connections you can make. Okay? So take a minute and go ahead and do that.

Then come back to the post. Okay Then the next question I have for you is what is central to this diagram. Now that should be a super, super easy answer. So go ahead and take a look at it. But what is central to this diagram, to the process of how science works? Hopefully you identified testing ideas.

What testing ideas uh is the key idea for how science works. In order to figure out whether an idea is good or bad, we have to test it. We have to take it out and find some information about it. Talk to other people about it, uh do experiments about it, etc. We need to test our ideas. And last but not least, what I’d like to point out is, as we get into this year, we’re to start bringing up ideas about innovation.

nnovation term

When people want to innovate, what do I mean by that? I mean find problems and make solutions. And if we’re finding problems and making solutions, we might see parallels to that within the scientific process, within the ideas of how science works. So in your handout, there are four different innovation terms I want you to work with. For each one of them, you are going to pick one of these four circles, one of the colored circles on here, to go ahead and think about which circle matches that statement best.

Which circle makes, matches that statement best, all right? Uh not important that you get them exactly right, but think about what those words mean and how are they related to the words that are in the diagram. Go ahead and do that for those four terms and then come back. We’ll talk about them. All right, so let’s roll down this thing. The very first innovation term we had was making claims and finding evidence.

Now you might remember earlier in this, I said when we talk about claims, that’s us talking about finding explanations, right, creating explanations. So in other words another term that we used for that was hypothesis, right? finding evidence, that would be results or observations and how we interpret those.

So that very first one, making claims and finding evidence, matches up very, very well with this circle of testing ideas. Next one we had is customer discovery. Customer discovery? Ah, that means we go out to our customers and we discover things.

So who are customers in a scientific thing? It’s other scientists and people. So we want to do is, we want to get responses back from them. So that fits best with this circle, community analysis and feedback, getting feedback in peer review, having discussion, coming up with new questions, those kinds of things. The third one we have on there is making solutions. Okay, so making solutions means we take the evidence that we have, and we do something with it.

making observations

Well, let’s go ahead and think about that in terms of this one, Benefits and Outcomes, right? informing policy, developing new technology, solving problems. There it is, right? So that one fits best with the circle of Benefits and Outcomes. And the last innovation term we had was finding problems. Finding problems is this entire area right up here, right? Where do we get problems from?

We get it from making observations, asking questions, finding inspiration, exploring the literature, all of those are ways that we can find problems. We might also have personal motivation, or a surprising observation that we took or some new technology comes along, or even just our general curiosity. Okay, so hopefully from this discussion you got a better idea of what science is, what the goal of science is, and how science works. Once you’ve completed, uh, the handout, go ahead and upload that to schoology and then you are done for this lesson. See you next time.

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