Focusing Labs on the Nature of Scienceby: Alan Colburn

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After learning about the scientific method, students are often left with mistaken impressions about how scientists work. This article seeks to give students a better understanding of the nature of science through laboratory work. Open-ended exercises in chromatography and mystery powders are included.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:41 PM

I especially like the quote provided in this article: "Science requires evidence, not just pronouncements from experts". The author does a great job of reminding us that real science is messy and filled with lots of questions. Included in the discussion are two examples of labs completed within the framework of the nature of science. Overall, this is a great article to help provide insight into how to begin to modify teaching to embrace the nature of science within labs.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:13 PM

This article compares and contrasts the Nature of Science (NOS) with the more concrete steps of the scientific method. The author points out that students sometimes have the misconception that the scientific method produces ‘sure knowledge’. The author offers two inquiry labs (on mystery powders and chromatography) that don’t produce the expected results of cookbook labs. Helpful hints on how to help students experience the nature of science are provided as the author continues to expound the benefits of letting students ask their questions and design experiments that will provide evidence to support their hypotheses and explain their conclusions. This article details ways that students can experience the real nature of science and become ‘better consumers of scientific knowledge’.

Carolyn M  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)

  • on Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:46 PM

Too often teachers expect students to follow a specific number of steps to the scientific method. This article focuses on exploring and embracing the nature of science in all of its "messiness" and occasional uncertainty. Read the article for tips on how to conduct frequent, brief conversations that are key to getting students to think like scientists.

Patricia McGinnis  (Pottstown, PA)
Patricia McGinnis (Pottstown, PA)

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