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Lesson 3 The Nature of Science The goal of science is to learn how nature works by observing the natural and physical world Science cannot provide answers to all questions There are many different areas of science or scientific disciplines but all scientific study involves asking questions making observations relying on evidence to form conclusions and being skeptical about ideas
Brand Y And then if you like Brand Y you may buy it again even when it is not on sale If you did not like. Brand Y then no sale will get you to try it again Your conclusions are essentially based on an. experiment To find out why a person makes a particular purchasing choice you might examine the cost. ingredient list or packaging of the two salad dressings. The word science comes from a Latin word that means knowledge Science is a distinctive way. of gaining knowledge about the natural world that starts with a question and then tries to answer the. question with evidence and logic Science is an exciting exploration of all the whys and hows that any. curious person might have about the world Science is a way to get some of those whys answered You. can be part of that exploration Besides your curiosity all you need is a basic understanding of how. scientists think and how science is done starting with the goal of science. THE GOAL OF SCIENCE, The goal of science is to understand the natural world To achieve this goal scientists make. certain assumptions They assume that,Nature can be understood through systematic study. Scientific ideas are open to revision,Sound scientific ideas withstand the test of time. Science cannot provide answers to all questions, There are many different areas of science or scientific disciplines but all scientific study involves. asking questions making observations relying on evidence to form conclusions and being skeptical. about ideas or results Skepticism is an attitude of doubt about the truthfulness of claims that lack. empirical evidence Scientific skepticism also referred to as skeptical inquiry questions claims based on. their scientific verifiability rather than accepting claims based on faith or anecdotes Scientific skepticism. uses critical thinking to analyze such claims and opposes claims which lack scientific evidence. Nature Can Be Understood, Scientists think of nature as a single system controlled by natural laws By discovering natural. laws scientists strive to increase their understanding of the natural world Laws of nature are expressed. as scientific laws A scientific law is a statement that describes what always happens under certain. conditions in nature, An example of a scientific law is the law of gravity which was discovered by Sir Isaac Newton. see Figure 1 1 The law of gravity states that objects always fall towards Earth because of the pull of. gravity Based on this law Newton could explain many natural events He could explain not only why. objects such as apples always fall to the ground but he could also explain why the moon orbits Earth. Isaac Newton discovered laws of motion as well as the law of gravity His laws of motion allowed him to. explain why objects move as they do,Figure 1 1 Did Newton discover the law of gravity. when an apple fell from a tree and hit him on the,head Probably not but observations of nature are. often the starting point for new ideas about the,natural world. Scientific Ideas Can Change, Science is more of a process than a set body of knowledge Scientists are always testing and. revising their ideas and as new observations are made existing ideas may be challenged Ideas may be. replaced with new ideas that better fit the facts but more often existing ideas are simply revised For. example when Albert Einstein developed his theory of relativity he didn t throw out Newton s laws of. motion Instead he showed that Newton s laws are a part of a bigger picture In this way scientists. gradually build an increasingly accurate and detailed understanding of the natural world. Scientific Knowledge Can Withstand the Test of Time. Many scientific ideas have withstood the test of time For example about 200 years ago the. scientist John Dalton proposed atomic theory the theory that all matter is made of tiny particles called. atoms This theory is still valid today There are many other examples of basic science ideas that have. been tested repeatedly and found to be true You will learn about many of them as you study biology. Science Cannot Answer All Questions, Science rests on evidence and logic so it deals only with things that can be observed An. observation is anything that is detected either through human senses or with instruments and. measuring devices that extend human senses Things that cannot be observed or measured by current. means such as supernatural beings or events are outside the bounds of science Consider these two. questions about life on Earth,Did life on Earth evolve over time. Was life on Earth created through another method, The first question can be answered by science on the basis of scientific evidence and logic The. second question could be a matter of belief Therefore it is outside the realm of science. THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD, There are basic methods of gaining knowledge that are common to all of science At the heart of. science is the scientific investigation which is done by following the scientific method A scientific. investigation is a plan for asking questions and testing possible answers It generally follows the steps. listed in Figure 1 2 See http www youtube com watch v zcavPAFiG14 for an overview of the. scientific method, Figure 1 2 Steps of a Scientific Investigation A scientific investigation typically has these steps. Making Observations, A scientific investigation typically begins with observations You make observations all the time. Let s say you take a walk in the woods and observe a moth like the one in Figure 1 3 on the next page. resting on a tree trunk You notice that the moth has spots on its wings that look like eyes You think the. eye spots make the moth look like the face of an owl. Figure 1 3 Does this moth remind you of an owl,Asking a Question. Observations often lead to questions For example you might ask yourself why the moth has. eye spots that make it look like an owl s face What reason might there be for this observation. Forming a Hypothesis, The next step in a scientific investigation is forming a hypothesis A hypothesis is a possible. answer to a scientific question but it isn t just any answer A hypothesis must be based on scientific. knowledge and it must be logical A hypothesis also must be falsifiable In other words it must be. possible to make observations that would disprove the hypothesis if it really is false Assume you know. that some birds eat moths and that owls prey on other birds From this knowledge you reason that eye. spots scare away birds that might eat the moth This is your hypothesis. Testing the Hypothesis, To test a hypothesis you first need to make a prediction based on the hypothesis A prediction. is a statement that tells what will happen under certain conditions It can be expressed in the form If A. occurs then B will happen Based on your hypothesis you might make this prediction If a moth has eye. spots on its wings then birds will avoid eating it. Next you must gather evidence to test your prediction Evidence is any type of data that may. either agree or disagree with a prediction so it may either support or disprove a hypothesis Assume. that you gather evidence by making more observations of moths with eye spots Perhaps you observe. that birds really do avoid eating the moths This evidence agrees with your prediction. Drawing Conclusions, Evidence that agrees with your prediction supports your hypothesis Does such evidence prove. that your hypothesis is true No a hypothesis cannot be proven conclusively to be true This is because. you can never examine all of the possible evidence and someday evidence might be found that. disproves or refutes the hypothesis Nonetheless the more evidence that supports a hypothesis the. more likely the hypothesis is to be true,Communicating Results. The last step in a scientific investigation is communicating what you have learned with others. This is a very important step because it allows others to test your hypothesis If other researchers get. the same results as yours they add support to the hypothesis However if they get different results. they may disprove the hypothesis When scientists share their results they should describe their. methods and point out any possible problems with the investigation For example while you were. observing moths perhaps your presence scared birds away This introduces an error into your. investigation You got the results you predicted the birds avoided the moths while you were observing. them but not for the reason you hypothesized Other researchers might be able to think of ways to. avoid this error in future studies,EXPERIMENTS, Figure 1 4 shows a laboratory experiment involving plants An experiment is a special type of. scientific investigation that is performed under controlled conditions usually in a laboratory Some. experiments can be very simple but even the simplest contributed important evidence that helped. scientists better understand the natural world An example experiment can be seen here. http www youtube com watch v F10EyGwd57M amp feature related or can be seen at. http www youtube com watch v dVRBDRAsP6U, Figure 1 4 A laboratory experiment studying plant growth What might this experiment involve. An experiment generally tests how one variable is affected by another The affected variable is. called the dependent variable In the plant experiment shown above the dependent variable is plant. growth The variable that affects the dependent variable is called the independent variable In the plant. experiment the independent variable is fertilizer some plants will get fertilizer others will not In any. experiment other factors that might affect the dependent variable must be controlled In the plant. experiment what factors do you think should be controlled Hint What other factors might affect plant. Sample Size and Repetition, The sample in an experiment or other investigation consists of the individuals or events that are. studied Typically the sample is much smaller than all such individuals or events that exist in the world. Whether the results based on the sample are true in general cannot be known for certain However the. larger the sample is the more likely it is that the results are generally true Similarly the more times. that an experiment is repeated and the same results obtained the more likely the results are valid This. is why scientific experiments should always be repeated. OTHER TYPES OF SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATIONS, Experiments are sometimes hard or even impossible to do For example a scientist who is. studying an extinct animal cannot experiment with the animal because it no longer exists The scientist. must rely instead on evidence in the natural world such as fossils that the extinct animal left behind. Natural Studies, When scientists do studies in nature they usually cannot control factors that might affect the. variables they are investigating This is a drawback because it may make the observations difficult to. interpret Without controls it may not be possible to determine which of many factors explain the. observations For example assume you are studying how plants grow in a forest or field You cannot. control the amount of sunlight or rain water the plants receive so it will be difficult to determine which. factors most influence plant growth On the other hand a natural study shows what actually occurs in. nature Therefore it may provide a truer picture of what happens in the real world than an experiment. Another way to gain scientific knowledge without experiments is by making and manipulating. models A model is a representation of part of the real world Did you ever build a model car Scientific. models are something like model cars they represent the real world but are simpler than the real world. This is one reason that models are especially useful for investigating complex systems By using a model. scientists can better understand how the real system works An example of a scientific model is shown. in Figure 1 5 Do you know what systems these two models represent. Figure 1 5 Food Chains These two food chains represent. complex systems in nature They make the systems easier to. understand These are simple conceptual models Models of. very complex systems are often based on mathematical. equations or computer simulations, Like a hypothesis a model must be evaluated It is assessed by criteria such as how well it. represents the real world what limitations it has and how useful it is The usefulness of a model. depends on how well its predictions match observations of the real world Even when a model s. predictions match real world observations however it doesn t prove that the model is true or that it is. the only model that works,SCIENTIFIC THEORIES, With repeated testing some hypotheses may eventually become scientific theories A scientific. theory is a broad explanation for events that is widely accepted as true To become a theory a. hypothesis must be tested over and over again and it must be supported by a great deal of evidence. People commonly use the word theory to describe a guess about how or why something happens For. example you might say I think a woodchuck dug this hole in the ground but it s just a theory Using. the word theory in this way is different from the way it is used in science A scientific theory is more like. a fact than a guess because it is so well supported There are several well known theories in biology. including the theory of evolution cell theory and gene theory You will read about all three of these. theories in the next lesson A video explaining scientific theories can be seen at. http www youtube com watch v S5YGhprR6KE,APPLYING CONCEPTS Bio Inspiration Nature as Muse. For hundreds of years scientists have been using design ideas from structures in nature Now. biologists and engineers at the University of California Berkeley are working together to design a broad. range of new products such as life saving milli robots modeled on the way cockroaches run and. adhesives based on the amazing design of a geckos foot This process starts with making observations of. nature which lead to asking questions and to the additional aspects of the scientific process Bio. Inspiration Nature as Muse can be observed at http www kqed org quest television bioinspiration. nature as muse,Lesson Summary, The goal of science is to understand the natural world through systematic study Scientific. knowledge is based on evidence and logic, Scientists gain knowledge through scientific investigations A scientific investigation is a plan for. asking questions and testing possible answers, Scientists use experiments to test hypotheses under controlled conditions Experiments are. often done in a lab, Other types of scientific investigations include natural studies and modeling They can be used. when experiments are difficult to do, Scientific theories are broad explanations that are widely accepted as true This is because they. are supported by a great deal of evidence,References Multimedia Resources. Gummy Bear Experiment YouTube YouTube 03 Apr 2007 Web Summer 2013. http www youtube com watch v dVRBDRAsP6, How Much Sugar Is in a Can of Soda YouTube YouTube 01 Sept 2006 Web Summer 2013. http www youtube com watch v F10EyGwd57M amp feature related. QUEST QUEST RSS N p n d Web Summer 2013, http www kqed org quest television bioinspiration nature as muse. Scientific Theory vs Hypothesis YouTube YouTube 23 Sept 2009 Web Summer 2013. http www youtube com watch v S5YGhprR6KE, 10 The Scientific Method Made Easy YouTube YouTube 22 Mar 2008 Web Summer 2013. http www youtube com watch v zcavPAFiG14, Textbook resource granted through licensure agreement with the CK 12 Foundation at. www ck 12 org,CK 12 Foundation,3430 W Bayshore Rd Suite 101. Palo Alto CA 94303,USA http www ck12 org saythanks. Except as otherwise noted all CK 12 Content including CK 12 Curriculum Material is made available to. Users in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3 0 Unported. CC by NC SA License http creativecommons org licenses by nc sa 3 0 as amended and updated. by Creative Commons from time to time the CC License which is incorporated herein by this. reference Complete terms can be found at http www ck12 org terms.