US Content Standards | Print |

UNIFYING CONCEPTS AND PROCESSES

The focus of instruction at all grade levels should be linked to outcomes aligned with other content standards. Initially instruction should establish the meaning and use of unifying concepts and processes, then it should enhance the learning of science concepts and principles providing learners with a big picture of the scientific ideas. Unifying concepts and processes include:
  • Systems, order, and organization
  • Evidence, models, and explanation
    • Facts – observable and indisputable.
    • Data – information gained from experimentation.
    • Laws – statements that describe patterns in nature with no known exceptions.
    • Theories – explanations based on evidence (may be wrong).
    • Models – man-made ideas to help us visualize scientific concepts.
  • Change, constancy, and measurement
    • Answering questions, solving problems and making decisions
  • Evolution and equilibrium
  • Form and function

SCIENCE AS INQUIRY

Inquiry goes requires learners to combine science processes and scientific knowledge by using scientific reasoning and critical thinking to develop their understanding of science. Inquiry helps learners develop:
  • Understanding of scientific concepts.
  • An appreciation of "how we know" what we know in science.
  • Understanding of the nature of science.
  • Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
  • The dispositions to use the skills, abilities, and attitudes associated with science.

Science as inquiry is basic to science education and a controlling principle in the ultimate organization and selection of learners' activities.

Understanding Scientific Inquiry - Inquiry develops the ability to think and act in ways associated, asking questions, planning and conducting investigations (Initiating and Planning), using appropriate tools and techniques to gather data (Performing and Recording), thinking critically and logically about relationships between evidence and explanations (Analyzing and Interpreting), constructing and analyzing alternative explanations, and communicating scientific arguments (Communicating and Collaborating).

Scientific Inquiry Skills (SCIENTIFIC METHOD)
  • Recognize a situation/need that could be investigated (curiosity)
  • State the problem (in the form of a question)
  • Gather information by research
  • Form a hypothesis (an educated guess)
  • Test the hypothesis through experimentation - a controlled test.
  • Only one variable should be changed at a time.
  • Manipulated (independent - changed by the experimenter)
  • Responding (dependent - what happens – the results)
  • Constants do not change.
  • Controlled variables are those which could change, but are not allowed to.
  • Two parts to an experiment:
  • Control group – normal conditions.
  • Experimental group(s) – variables are changed.
  • Prediction is the goal of experiments.
  • Analyze data & draw conclusions
  • Make predictions
  • Redefine the problem or explore related problems

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Science and Technology connect the natural and designed worlds and provide opportunities to develop problem solving and decision-making skills. They emphasize abilities associated with the process of design and understanding how to identify and state a problem, design a solution—including a cost and risk-and-benefit analysis—implement a solution, and evaluate the solution. Science as inquiry is parallel to technology as design.

Abilities of Technological Design - Goals are intended to provide solutions to practical problems. Problems can often be resolved with more than one solution. Development may involve trial and error, as well as applications integrating knowledge from other scientific fields

Understandings about science and technology - The process of technological development includes: Clearly defined problems and specific requirements to be met; Designs and prototypes can be varied; Appropriateness of technological solution needs to be assessed; Performance evaluation essential to final design. Scientific knowledge may lead to the development of new technologies and new technologies may lead to new scientific discovery. Technological products include devices, systems and processes that meet important functions.

HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE

Science is empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world, produced by researchers making use of scientific methods, emphasizing observation, explanation, and prediction of real world phenomena by experiment. Science reflects history and its ongoing, changing influence on the natural world. The use of history in science programs is used to clarify different aspects of inquiry, the human aspects of science, and the role that science has played in the development of various cultures. Investigations of the natural world have been described since early times and scientific methods have been employed since the Middle Ages. Modern science occurred during what is known as the Scientific Revolution, which took place in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. Scientific methods are considered to be so fundamental to modern science that some — especially philosophers of science and practicing scientists — consider earlier inquiries into nature to be pre-scientific. Science has limitations: it cannot make value judgments, cannot prove a universal negative, it is as limited as our instruments, it cannot provide complete answers to all questions and it is subject to change.

Science as a human endeavour
- Science tries to answer the questions how and what (not why). Science facilitates a logical and ordered way to learn about the nature of things, based on inquiry (through observation and evidence). Science enables exploration and discovery, by enhancing knowledge and developing ideas, to further explanations and understandings of what we see and experience. Science provides a conceptual basis and theoretical framework used to further our interpretations of natural and technological phenomena.

Nature of Scientific Knowledge
- Science is the total collection of knowledge gained by man’s observation of the physical universe. There are two main types of science:
  • Pure science – attempts to gain new knowledge; discoveries; research.
  • Applied science (technology) is the use of science in practical ways.

Scientific knowledge results from the shared work of many people over time. It`s language is precise, with specific terminology and conventions of nomenclature used in each of the different disciplines of science. Science is driven by knowledge, theory and explanation. It occurs within a social context, while cultural and philosophical traditions help to focus and evolve science, which can then influence society.

Historical Perspectives - In prehistoric times, advice and knowledge was passed on orally. The development of writing enabled knowledge to be stored and communicated. Ancient civilizations collected astronomical information in a systematic manner through simple observation. Though they had no knowledge of the real physical structure of the planets and stars, many theoretical explanations were proposed. Basic facts about human physiology were known in some places. Alchemy was practiced in several civilizations. Tracing the exact origins of modern science is possible through the many important texts, which have survived from the classical world. The word scientist was first coined in the 19th century. Previously, people investigating nature called themselves natural philosophers.