Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Editor's Corner: October 2015, Notes from the Field Editor

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Editor's Corner: October 2015, Notes from the Field Editor

Article excerpt

The Nature of Science

Now that the school year is in full swing, students everywhere are learning the big ideas of science. They are investigating cell theory and evolution, studying Newton's laws and atomic theory, learning about plate tectonics and Earth's place in the universe. No one could argue against the importance of these ideas. But, as students learn science content, are they also learning what science is?

Learning about the nature of science (NOS) is certainly as important as learning about scientific laws and theories. In this increasingly scientific and technological age, personal and societal decisions require a clear understanding of scientific knowledge and how it is generated. Should I take vitamin supplements? Is an electric vehicle worth the price? How big a threat is climate change? Are genetically modified foods all right to eat? Questions like these require both understanding the relevant science knowledge and also awareness of how that knowledge was generated and how reliable it is. Unfortunately, popular media and science textbooks often give a mistaken view of the nature of science. If we are being honest, some of our teaching practices can also perpetuate myths about what science really is.

For these reasons and many more, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States 2013) weave connections to the nature of science into every standard. The NGSS note that "Science is both a set of practices and the historical accumulation of knowledge. …

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