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Developing an understanding of science

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Developing an understanding of science What science is and what it is not. What science can do and what it cannot do. How science contributes to culture. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Developing an understanding of science


1
Developing an understanding of science
  • What science is and what it is not.
  • What science can do and what it cannot do.
  • How science contributes to culture.

2
What is the Nature of the Processes which Relate
to Science ?
  • Is Science a process which
  • can solve all kinds of problems and questions ?
  • What is your viewpoint??
  • A possible viewpoint you may hold
  • The scope of science is limited strictly
    to solving problems about the natural world.
    Science is not properly equipped to handle the
    supernatural realm (as such), nor the realm of
    values and ethics (or religious beliefs).

3
Science is a process which
  • can ignore rules ?
  • A possible viewpoint - Science must follow
    certain rules otherwise, it's not science (just
    as football/ice hockey, is not football/ice
    hockey if the rules are not followed).
  • seeks the truth or facts ?
  • A possible viewpoint - The goal of science
    is to come as close as we can to understanding
    the cause-effect realities of the natural world.
    It's never "truth" or "facts". "Truth" and
    "facts" can mean different things to different
    people.
  • WHAT !! THE GOAL OF SCIENCE IS NOT ABOUT FACTS
    !!
  • WHAT DO WE TEACH IN SCIENCE
    LESSONS ???

4
This is a nice spiral, right?
  • Wrong... It's a set of independent circles

5
Science is a process which
  • 4. attempts to prove things ?
  • A possible viewpoint - The process of science,
    when properly applied, actually attempts to
    disprove ideas (i.e. tentative explanations)... a
    process called "testing", or "challenging". If
    the idea survives testing, then it is stronger,
    and more likely an accurate explanation.
  • 5. can produce any kind of explanation ?
  • A possible viewpoint - Supernatural explanations
    cannot be used, since they can never be disproved
    (supernatural forces, by definition, do not
    predictably follow the laws of nature. Whatever
    results occur in any test can be attributed to
    those nebulous forces, effectively ending any
    further efforts to explain).

6
Science is a process
  • 6. which produces certainties, or absolute facts
    ?
  • A possible viewpoint - Science is a process
    which can only produce "possible" to "highly
    probable" explanations for natural phenomena
    these are never certainties. With new
    information, tools, or approaches, earlier
    findings (theories, or even facts) can be
    replaced by new findings.
  • 7. for which one solution is as good as another ?
  • A possible explanation - In science, there is a
    rigorous analysis and fair-test comparison of
    alternative explanations, using discriminate
    criteria, e.g., confirmation by multiple
    independent lines of evidence, leading to one
    "best" solution.

7
  • 8. which can be relied on due to its total
    objectivity and internal self-correction ?
  • A possible explanation - Science can be done
    poorly, just like any other human endeavour. We
    are all fallible, some of us make fewer mistakes
    than others, some observe better than others, but
    we are still subjective in the end.
  • 9. which is always used properly ?
  • A possible explanation - Unfortunately,
    science is all too frequently misused. Because it
    works so well, there are those who apply the name
    of science to their efforts to "prove" their
    favourite cause, even if the rules of science are
    not followed. Such causes are properly labelled
    "pseudosciences".

8
  • 10. which is free from values, opinions or bias ?
  • A possible explanation - Scientists are
    people, and although they follow rules and try to
    be objective, both in their observations and
    interpretations, biases are still there.
    Unconscious racial or gender bias, social status,
    source of funding, political leanings can, and
    do, influence one's perceptions and
    interpretations.
  • 11. in which scientific theories are "tentative
    ideas" or "hunches".
  • A possible explanation - The word "theory" is
    often used this way in everyday conversation, but
    a theory in science refers to a highly probable,
    well-tested, comprehensive explanation, usually
    for a large collection of observations.

9
Aspects of the Nature of Science
  • Tentative
  • Scientific knowledge is subject to change with
    new observations and with the reinterpretations
    of existing observations. All other aspects of
    NOS provide rationale for the tentativeness of
    scientific knowledge.
  • Empirical Scientific knowledge is based on
    and/or derived from observations of the natural
    world.
  • These are fine, but

10
A rabbit or a duck?
11
Illusions
  • Do you see the face? Or an Eskimo?

12
A waterfall, but are you sure ??
13
Does A or B form the straight line extension of
line C ?
14
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
15
Do you believe that the lines at the top of the
trapezia are the same length ?
16
  • Let us continue looking at aspects of science
  • So far we have said that the Nature of Science is
    such that it is
  • Tentative
  • Empirical (based on, or derived from,
    observation)

17
Socially and culturally embeddedScience is a
human endeavour and is influenced by the society
and culture in which it is practiced. The values
of the culture determine what and how science is
conducted, interpreted, accepted, and
utilised.Subjectivity The development of
questions, investigations, and interpretations of
data are filtered through the lens of current
accepted theories and laws. This is an
unavoidable subjectivity that allows science to
progress and remain consistent, yet also
contributes to change in science when previous
evidence is examined from the perspective of new
knowledge.
  • Five Additional Aspects of Science

18
CreativeScientific knowledge is created from
human imaginations and logical reasoning. This
creation is based on observations and inferences
of the natural world.Laws and
TheoriesTheories and laws are different kinds of
scientific knowledge. Laws describe
relationships, observed or perceived, of
phenomena in nature. Theories are inferred
explanations for natural phenomena and
mechanisms for relationships among natural
phenomena. Hypotheses in science may lead to
either theories or laws with the accumulation of
substantial supporting evidence and acceptance
in the scientific community. Theories and laws
do not progress into one and another. They are
distinctly and functionally different types of
knowledge.
19
  • Observation and InferenceScience is based on
    both observation and inference. Observations are
    gathered through human senses or extensions of
    those senses. Inferences are interpretations of
    those observations. Perspectives of current
    science and the scientist guide both observations
    and inferences. Multiple perspectives contribute
    to valid multiple interpretations of
    observations.
  • WOULD YOU AGREE THAT THIS IS AN IMPORTANT
    MESSAGE FOR THE TEACHING OF SCIENCE IN SCHOOL.
  • INFERENCE IS AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF SCHOOL
    SCIENCE.

20
Dispelling the Myths about Science
  • Scientific Laws and other such ideas are
    absolute.
  • Hypothesis is an educated guess.
  • A General and Universal Scientific Method Exists.
  • Science and its Methods can answer all Questions
    Evidence accumulated carefully will result in
    sure Knowledge.
  • Science and Its Methods provide Absolute Proof.
  • Science is Procedural more than Creative.
  • Scientists are particularly objective.

21
  • Experiments are the Principal route to Scientific
    Knowledge.
  • Hypotheses become Theories that in turn become
    Laws.
  • Scientific conclusions are reviewed for accuracy.
  • Acceptance of new Scientific Knowledge is
    straightforward.
  • Science models represent reality.
  • Science and technology are identical.
  • Science is a solitary pursuit.
  • The Nature of Science in Science Education
    Rationales and StrategiesWilliam F. McComas 1998
    Kluwer Academic Publishers

22
  • Try the following ACTIVITIES

23
A 3- holed bottle experiment
  • A simple enough experiment, but .
  • What hypotheses did this involve ?
  • What observations were relevant ?
  • What explanations were offered ?

24
The 3 holed bottle experiment
  • This is sometimes called a discrepant event as
    the reality is not as expected.
  • (if you think about it, the sun moving
    across the sky is a discrepant event).
  • But what scientific question could initiate the
    experiment?
  • If matter is made of particles, how can matter be
    stored in containers?

25
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26
Observe what does actually happen.
What explanation do you have for what happened?
You should be able to put forward at least one
explanation. Explanations from the group may not
all be the same.
Select one explanation which you like. Now based
on that possible explanation, predict what will
happen when the second hole is uncovered.
27
Observe what actually did happen.
Did the result match your prediction ? If so, do
you feel your prediction is good? If NOT, it
seems your prediction is not good. Can you put
forward another Prediction?

Now we have one more hole. Let us again make a
prediction about the outcome if we uncover all 3
holes.
28
  • Let us look at some ACTIVITIES related to ideas
    of research question, hypothesis, observation and
    deduction

29
Examining a cube
  • Create a group of 2 persons
  • Examine (but do not touch/move) the cube placed
    on the table.
  • Individually, from your inquisitive observation,
    frame a question which you would wish to ask
    about the cube ?
  • Each person records their questions.

30
Exploring one question further what is written
on the bottom, i.e. hidden side ?
  • In your group, discuss this question.
  • Record your group predictions.
  • If you feel it is useful, your group may give
    more than one justification.
  • If you have more than one prediction, identify
    the dominant hypothesis.

Justify your predictions with appropriate
evidence. (ANOTHER IMPORTANT STEP FOR THE
TEACHING OF SCIENCE)
31
Examining another cube
  • In your groups, examine (but do not touch/move)
    the new cube placed on the table.
  • Put forward your predicted answer as to what is
    on the hidden, bottom face of the cube.
  • Record your prediction(s).

32
Cube 2 - a further stage
  • Carefully raise one corner of the cube so that,
    with the use of a mirror, you can see the number
    recorded in the top right corner, OR the bottom
    left corner (but not both !!)
  • Modify your prediction as to what is written on
    the bottom of the cube, if appropriate.

33
Teaching and Cube 2
  • Does cube 2 give us any insight into the teaching
    of science ?
  • Does it suggest that we do not necessarily need
    to observe everything and that we can make
    calculated guesses from other observations ?
  • We can make inferences.
  • If a gas is colourless and lighter than air, can
    we infer it is probably hydrogen ?
  • Or if a gas is known to be hydrogen, then can we
    infer a balloon containing hydrogen will ..

34
A QuizDid the previous slides make
sense???Which option would you choose for the
following questions about science and technology ?
35
What to do?
  • On a sheet of paper write your preferred response
    to each of the following 7 questions as per the
    instructions given.
  • What is the purpose of this quiz ?
  • Its purpose is to see how much there is general
    agreement among the participants.

36
The Nature of Science and Technology
  • Science is
  • (a) a study of fields such as biology,
    chemistry and physics.
  • (b) carrying out experiments to solve problems
    of interest.
  • (c) a systematic investigative process and the
    resulting knowledge.
  • (d) inventing and designing things.
  • (e) finding and using knowledge to make this
    world a better place.
  • (f) a body of knowledge that explains the
    world around us.
  • (g) exploring the unknown and discovering new
    things about the world.
  • (h) an organisation of people called
    scientists who have ideas and techniques for
    discovering new knowledge.
  • (i) do not know.

37
  • 2. In your opinion, what does Science aim at ?
  • (a) To make sure that what has been discovered
    about the world is really true.
  • (b) To understand, explain and interpret the
    continuing change in nature and its
    characteristics.
  • (c) To discover, collect and group facts about
    nature.
  • (d) To find ways to make peoples lives better.
  • (e) Do not know.

38
  • 3. Why do you think Scientists do Scientific
    Research ?
  • (a) To make new discoveries.
  • (b) To try out their explanations for why
    things happen.
  • (c) To make something which will help people.
  • (d) To collect data as much as possible, and to
    draw out scientific laws from data.
  • (e) Do not know.

39
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40
  • 4. Which of the following statements about
    Scientific Knowledge match your Understanding of
    Scientific Knowledge
  • (a) Scientific knowledge is a well-organised
    collection of facts.
  • (b) Todays scientific knowledge is based on
    scientific perspectives, ideas and
    interpretations from the past.
  • (c) Todays scientists have produced todays
    scientific knowledge.
  • (d) Scientific knowledge contains only
    statements that are 100 true.
  • (e) Do not understand the term scientific
    knowledge.

41
  • A Scientific Theory is
  • (a) An idea about what will happen.
  • (b) A most appropriate interpretation and
    explanation which has been approved by
    scientists.
  • (c) A fact which has been proved by many
    experiments.
  • (d) Do not know.

42
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43
  • 6. Technology is
  • (a) The application of science to enhance life.
  • (b) Manufactured artefacts such as appliances,
    tools and scientific instruments.
  • (c) The hardware, techniques, processes, people
    associated with items such as tools, appliances
    and scientific instruments.
  • (d) Inventing, designing, developing and
    testing things such as appliances, tools and
    scientific instruments.
  • (e) Very similar to science.
  • (f) The process of manufacturing and the
    underlying know-how.
  • (g) Something else e.g. ?

44
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45
  • 7. Circle all the statements with which you
    agree
  • (a) Technological innovations and/or
    development of science bring about environmental
    problems such as pollution and acid rain.
  • (b) Science and technology often makes our
    lives healthier, easier, and more comfortable.
  • (c) The prosperity of the nation depends to a
    greater extent on science and technology.
  • (d) Science and technology rarely do harm to
    our lives.
  • (e) We cannot solve all the problems which we
    are facing only by the power of science and
    technology.
  • (f) Because science, technology and society
    are independent mutually, they do not affect each
    other.
  • (g) Science and technology affect society on
    the one hand, society affects science and
    technology on the other hand.

46
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