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National Science Standards, History and Nature of Science

This post relates to the History and Nature of Science content standards for grades 5 through 8 of the 2005 National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council. We’ll look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) and Kogs-4-Kids (K4K) texts align with these.

National Science Education Standards; HISTORY & NATURE OF SCIENCE

Science as a Human Endeavor

  • Women and men of various social and ethnic backgrounds – and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations – engage in the activities of science, engineering, and related fields such as the health professions. Some scientists work in teams, and some work alone, but all communicate extensively with others.
  • Science requires different abilities, depending on such factors as the field of study and type of inquiry. Science is very much a human endeavor, and the work of science relies on basic human qualities, such as reasoning, insight, energy, skill, and creativity – as well as on the scientific habits of mind, such as intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism, and openness to new ideas.

Nature of Science

  1. Scientists formulate and test their explanations of nature using observation, experiments, and theoretical and mathematical models. Although all scientific ideas are tentative and subject to change and improvement in principle, for most major ideas in science, there is much experimental and observational confirmation. Those ideas are not likely to change greatly in the future. Scientists do and have changed their ideas about nature when they encounter new experimental evidence that does not match their existing explanations.
  2. In areas where active research is being pursued and in which there is not a great deal of experimental or observational evidence and understanding, it is normal for scientists to differ with one another about the interpretation of the evidence or theory being considered. Different scientists might publish conflicting experimental results or might draw different conclusions from the same data. Ideally, scientists acknowledge such conflict and work towards finding evidence that will resolve their disagreement.
  3. It is part of scientific inquiry to evaluate the results of scientific investigations, experiments, observations, theoretical models, and the explanations proposed by other scientists. Evaluation includes reviewing the experimental procedures, examining the evidence, identifying faulty reasoning, pointing out statements that go beyond the evidence, and suggesting alternative explanations for the same observations. Although scientists may disagree about explanations of phenomena, about interpretations of data, or about the value of rival theories, they do agree that questioning, response to criticism, and open communication are integral to the process of science. As scientific knowledge evolves, major disagreements are eventually resolved through such interactions between scientists.

History of Science

  1. Many individuals have contributed to the traditions of science. Studying some of these individuals provides further understanding of scientific inquiry, science as a human endeavor, the nature of science, and the relationships between science and society.
  2. In historical perspective, science has been practiced by different individuals in different cultures. In looking at the history or many peoples, one finds that scientists and engineers of high achievement are considered to be among the most valued contributors to their culture.
  3. Tracing the history of science can show how difficult it was for scientific innovators to break through the accepted ideas of their time to reach the conclusions that we currently take for granted.

Real Science-4-Kids meets this standard in the following ways:

The National Standards for “history and nature of science” relate in many ways to the entire content of RS4K and Kogs. Because each level of the RS4K curricula covers subjects in the same order (with more depth added for higher levels), the following alignments are generally true for Pre-Level I and Level II as well as Level I. However, specific examples are taken from Level I texts and workbooks since that age range most closely matches that of the National Standards presented here. Kogs workbooks expand on the subject in the context of the book’s category (philosophy, critical thinking, history, etc.). Because information is built upon with each chapter, many types of knowledge in the standards show up in virtually all chapters. However, the key chapters for each section are shown below.

Science as a Human Endeavor

Inventors and scientists from numerous countries – including Sweden, Russia, Italy, Iran, Greece and the U.S. – are identified specifically throughout both Gravitas’ textbooks and Kogs workbooks. Examples of how discoveries and inventions have benefited societies, and often the inventors personally, are also plentiful. In the Chemistry Connects to History Kog in particular, readers see how early scientists – who often were not known as such but rather had jobs ranging from being king to writing plays to being a lawyer – built upon knowledge and theories to invent the discipline we now call science and further our body of knowlege. Explanations of how various scientists approached a question or problem demonstrate the qualities of good scientists.

Nature of Science

  1. In the Chemistry Connects to History Kog students take an entertaining look back at how early scientific theories evolved as experimentation and observation became more sophisticated and accurate. Readers learn that even in ancient times, people came up with the concept that there were a few elements that were the basis for all things. From Aristotle’s idea of air, water, fire and earth to Democritus’ theory of tiny particles he called “atoms,” students see the progression and refinement of science. Examples of important discoveries in a timeline illustrate in many cases just how scientists conducted experiments to prove their hypotheses.
  2. Chapter 4 in the Chemistry Connects to Philosophy Kog (How Do We Know What We Know?) deals very specifically with how science has developed by working through differing ideas. The chapter explains terms such as paradigm shifts in science and gives examples such as the story of Svante Arrhenius, who received a low grade on his dissertation about ions from the graduating committee. They did not agree with many of his conclusions. However, he was later proven correct and even received a Nobel Prize for his work.
  3. The scientific method is covered in various places in the RS4K and Kogs curricula, such as in the introduction for Physics Level I and in the Chemistry Connects to Philosophy Kog, where the Muslim philosopher Ibn al-Haytham is credited with the development and Roger Bacon with the refinement of the process. Bacon added “verification” to the cycle of observation, hypothesis and experimentation. Throughout the Laboratory Workbooks for each discipline, the importance of the method is stressed and illustrated. Helping students embrace a process to weed out statements not supported by evidence, RS4K builds critical thinking skills with numerous lessons and questions. An outstanding source for learning these skills very specifically is the Chemistry Connects to Critical Thinking Kog. The entire 10 chapters of this workbook are devoted to tools for objectively gathering facts and then using a “critical thinking lens” to make valid conclusions or ask further questions.

History of Science

A. through C. The Chemistry Connects to History Kog was created to specifically address the importance of students understanding the history of science and why the challenges faced along the way are important even today. Important figures and their ideas are often brought to life with brief and colorful explanations of their culture. That workbook even begins with an explanation of what “history” means and the tools used to understand and interpret artifacts. Students begin the workbook by creating their own short history or a history for a family member. Blank timelines that the student completes are used throughout. The Chemistry Connects to Philosophy Kog makes use of plays in which the students portray historical figures in science that are having discussions. The Kogs are more detailed extensions of the philosophy woven throughout the Student Texts, which is that students learn best if scientific concepts and facts are put into context. So several chapters in each subject text include information on the scientists who made certain discoveries and the diversity of their backgrounds and culture.

One Response to “National Science Standards, History and Nature of Science”

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