Three major features of “doing” science

NSTA has identified three major features of students who actually “Do” science.  The first of these is Human explorations of the natural world. The second includes Explanations of the objects and events encountered.  And the third requires Evidence to support the explanations proposed. These features should be incorporated in science teaching for all students to ensure that students experience the actual “Doing of Science!”

We want students (and teachers) around the world to experience science in every K-16 science classroom. If we’re doing it right, students will “question”, “think creatively”, and “gather evidence” continually to support the explanations. It is especially important that the validity of the explanations proposed be established. Such experiences with “science” are not typically taught to students by science teachers. All (both students and teachers) should share explanations and interpretations about objects and events which they themselves have encountered.

The use of textbooks, laboratory manuals, teacher lectures, and other quick fixes for teacher actions are all opposite examples of “doing” science. Evaluating what students merely remember and repeat individually and/or collectively does not result in real science learning. Students must formulate their own ideas, including minds-on experiences, to really understand all aspects of “doing” science.

G. G. Simpson explained the “doing of science” looks like this:

  1. Asking questions about the objects and events encountered;
  2. Formulating possible answers/explanations;
  3. Collecting evidence in nature to determine the validity of the explanations offered;
  4. Checking on other attempts made by other experts; and
  5. Sharing the solution(s) with others.

“Science” is not like art and drama where teachers admire and/or criticize the performances of their best students. “Science” starts with unknowns and then seeking answers to explain them!

 Robert E. Yager

Professor of Science Education

University of Iowa

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1 Response to Three major features of “doing” science

  1. Laura Lynne Frazier says:

    As a word of caution and concern, I would like to suggest that one might want to reconsider comparing science to art and drama as if the the disciplines are as different as apples and oranges. Art and drama are often unknowns to the students who have to discover what their minds and bodies can do. And a good art and drama teacher will allow for discovery as well as critique of not only their best students but of all students. So in this sense, there is also a science of art and drama. At my arts-based school, both instructors, along with our dance instructor, help to inform science as well as their discipline through movement, art, and thought. I rely on these teachers to help incorporate the science into their curriculum and I use art, music, drama and dance to help students understand the sometimes complex ideas involved in science.

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