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What is Science? …and how do scientists do what they do?

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Presentation on theme: "What is Science? …and how do scientists do what they do?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What is Science? …and how do scientists do what they do?

2 What is science? “Science” comes from the Latin word scientia which means “to know.”

3 What is science? Science is an intellectual activity carried out by humans Science is an intellectual activity carried out by humans It involves the observation of natural events and the world around us It involves the observation of natural events and the world around us

4 What is science? Science involves studying our observations to discover patterns Science involves studying our observations to discover patterns

5 What is science? It’s organized, so that we can make theories and laws about our observations It’s organized, so that we can make theories and laws about our observations

6 What is science? - theories Students often have definitions for the word theory that are quite different from the scientific meaning of the word. Students often have definitions for the word theory that are quite different from the scientific meaning of the word. To nonscientists, the word theory often means a hunch, opinion or a guess. To nonscientists, the word theory often means a hunch, opinion or a guess.

7 What is science? - theories A theory in the non-scientific sense of the word does not require firm evidence to support it, nor does it require the consensus of others. A theory in the non-scientific sense of the word does not require firm evidence to support it, nor does it require the consensus of others. In common usage it’s In common usage it’s not unusual to hear someone say, “I have a theory about…”

8 What is science? – theories BUT, in SCIENCE: BUT, in SCIENCE: –Scientific theories are based on observations that have been tested and supported with multiple lines of evidence. –Theories are widely accepted in the scientific community and can be used to make predictions.

9 What is science? - theories A theory can also predict A theory can also predict –such as making predictions about our earliest ancestors based on the human fossil record –such as predicting things that take a long time, like the evolution of stars

10 What is science? - theories Theories in science are considered “true,” but because of the dynamic nature of science, they can change if new evidence becomes available. Theories in science are considered “true,” but because of the dynamic nature of science, they can change if new evidence becomes available. Such new evidence may be made possible through new technology, new ways of analyzing data, new theoretical advances, or shifts in research that examine new information and lead to a change in a theory. Such new evidence may be made possible through new technology, new ways of analyzing data, new theoretical advances, or shifts in research that examine new information and lead to a change in a theory.

11 What is science? - theories Examples of scientific theories include the germ theory of disease, the germ theory of disease, the theory of evolution, the theory of evolution, plate tectonics theory plate tectonics theory –(discovered in my lifetime!), the big bang theory, and the big bang theory, and string theory (this, too!). string theory (this, too!).

12 What is science? - Laws Laws are central concepts of science – certain “pillars” that support the whole structure. Laws are central concepts of science – certain “pillars” that support the whole structure. There are a limited number of them, but they account for everything we see in the world around us. There are a limited number of them, but they account for everything we see in the world around us. Laws basically tell us how the world works. Laws basically tell us how the world works. There are not exceptions to scientific laws. There are not exceptions to scientific laws.

13 What is science? - Laws For example: Isaac Newton showed us that one set of laws describes all motion. For example: Isaac Newton showed us that one set of laws describes all motion. They are regular and predictable, a characteristic of scientific laws. They are regular and predictable, a characteristic of scientific laws. Do you know them? Do you know them?

14 What is science? - Laws Examples of scientific laws include Examples of scientific laws include –Newton’s laws of motion –Universal law of gravitation –Boyle’s law –Mendel’s laws

15 What is science? - Laws More laws… More laws… –Kepler’s laws –Laws of thermodynamics –Laws of electricity and magentism –Relativity (just ask Einstein!) –Etc. etc. etc. etc.

16 What is science? - Theories vs. Laws A law describes a phenomenon or event – it says to expect it, that it happens, but it does not explain why, like a theory does. A law describes a phenomenon or event – it says to expect it, that it happens, but it does not explain why, like a theory does. A theory is not a “law in waiting.” Theories do not mature into laws. A theory is not a “law in waiting.” Theories do not mature into laws. A theory is a well-established explanation. A theory is a well-established explanation. Laws describe what and theories explain why. Laws describe what and theories explain why.

17 What is science? “Science is not a body of facts. Science is a state of mind. It is a way of viewing the world, of facing reality square on but taking nothing on its face. It is about attacking a problem with the most manicured of claws and tearing it down into sensible, edible pieces.” “Science is not a body of facts. Science is a state of mind. It is a way of viewing the world, of facing reality square on but taking nothing on its face. It is about attacking a problem with the most manicured of claws and tearing it down into sensible, edible pieces.”  Natalie Angiers, The Canon

18 What is a scientist? Type “scientist” into Google Images and these are the top 5 images: Type “scientist” into Google Images and these are the top 5 images: What do you see? What do you see? What did you draw? What did you draw?

19 What is a scientist? Not those guys! We know a lot of scientists and NONE of them look like that?!

20 What is a scientist? THIS is more like it! This is REAL! THIS is more like it! This is REAL!

21 What is a scientist? Creative Creative Logical Logical Asks great questions Asks great questions Scientists know that any new discovery they’re lucky enough to uncover will raise more questions than they started with, and they always question what they thought was correct…science is a very humbling activity. Scientists know that any new discovery they’re lucky enough to uncover will raise more questions than they started with, and they always question what they thought was correct…science is a very humbling activity.

22 How do scientists do what they do? Science is guided by the question asked. Science is guided by the question asked. The question guides the type of investigation you’ll do. The question guides the type of investigation you’ll do. There is no ONE “scientific method” or steps that scientists follow. There is no ONE “scientific method” or steps that scientists follow.

23 How do scientists do what they do? Sometimes the question asked leads scientists to start with something they know and apply it to something they don’t…and Sometimes the question asked leads scientists to start with something they know and apply it to something they don’t…and

24 How do scientists do what they do? Sometimes the question asked leads scientists to an experiment. Sometimes the question asked leads scientists to an experiment. Scientists design experiments that ask only one question at a time. Scientists design experiments that ask only one question at a time.

25 How do scientists do what they do? Experiments involve testing cause and effect relationships between variables – They isolate a single variable and see what happens when they change only that ONE variable (while doing their very best to keep everything else in the experiment the same, or constant.)

26 How do scientists do what they do? Scientists are detectives, they ask good questions! Scientists are detectives, they ask good questions!

27 How do scientists do what they do? But they don’t only do experiments. But they don’t only do experiments. Astronomy, field studies in nature, and paleontology are some of the examples of areas of science in which it would be difficult to do experiments. So sometimes they do research. Astronomy, field studies in nature, and paleontology are some of the examples of areas of science in which it would be difficult to do experiments. So sometimes they do research.

28 How do scientists do what they do? Scientists also ask questions Scientists also ask questions that lead them to … –Build models –Do tests and collect data –Make observations –Collect stuff (like rocks) –Use instruments to extend their senses –Sometimes have good luck!

29 So how do scientists get the “right’ answer? Science is social – oddly enough, so is learning! Science is social – oddly enough, so is learning! One scientist makes a discovery…they pass the information on to their colleagues One scientist makes a discovery…they pass the information on to their colleagues Their colleagues follow the procedure and try to recreate the results under the same circumstances Their colleagues follow the procedure and try to recreate the results under the same circumstances

30 How do scientists get the “right’ answer? Scientists communicate to get consensus Scientists communicate to get consensus Publications Meetings Poster sessions

31 How do scientists get the “right’ answer? Scientists publish papers that other scientists read. This is called a “peer review.” Scientists publish papers that other scientists read. This is called a “peer review.” Other scientists re-create the work of the original scientist to see if they get the same answer. Other scientists re-create the work of the original scientist to see if they get the same answer. If other scientists agree, all is well. If others do not agree, more testing is done to check for the “right” answer. If other scientists agree, all is well. If others do not agree, more testing is done to check for the “right” answer.

32 How do scientists get the “right’ answer? The “right” answer is derived through consensus after following logical steps. The “right” answer is derived through consensus after following logical steps. Some theories that have strong consensus are the theory of evolution by natural selection, the theory of plate tectonics and global warming. Some theories that have strong consensus are the theory of evolution by natural selection, the theory of plate tectonics and global warming.

33 How do scientists get the “right’ answer? Sometimes, the right answer gets changed because there is new evidence or observations, but Sometimes, the right answer gets changed because there is new evidence or observations, but Most scientific knowledge is durable. Scientists generally modify ideas, rather than reject them outright. Most scientific knowledge is durable. Scientists generally modify ideas, rather than reject them outright.

34 What can’t science prove? The existence of supernatural powers or beings The existence of supernatural powers or beings The true purpose of life The true purpose of life Good vs. evil… Good vs. evil… The paranormal The paranormal

35 Where is science done? Governments, such as at our national labs Governments, such as at our national labs Hospitals Hospitals Universities Universities Businesses (think pharmaceuticals…) Businesses (think pharmaceuticals…) Industry (like computer factories…) Industry (like computer factories…) Independent research organizations (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) Independent research organizations (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) Scientific associations (AAAS) Scientific associations (AAAS) Los Alamos NL

36 Where is science done? …and …and Outside Outside Under the sea Under the sea In classrooms In classrooms Offices Offices Labs Labs Space! Space!

37 Science careers Discussion: What do the adults in your life do for a living? Where is science involved in their jobs? Discussion: What do the adults in your life do for a living? Where is science involved in their jobs? What are some science careers you know about? What are some science careers you know about?

38 Science is everywhere! There is science in EVERYTHING! Go ahead, name something…I bet there is science involved.


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