1Problems with ‘the scientific method’ _ Science News for Students.pdf

1Problems with ‘the scientific method’ _ Science News for Students.pdf

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9/13/2018 Problems with ‘the scientific method’ | Science News for Students 1/6 BY JENNIFER CUTRARO JUL 5, 2012 — 3:53 PM EST SCIENCE EDUCATION TEACHING SCIENCE Problems with ‘the scientific method’ Scientists rarely follow one straightforward path to understanding the natural world Across ages and scientific fields, students are increasingly probing their world by engaging in the types of activities scientists do. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Bill Hrybyk In Connecticut, first-graders load up toy cars with different amounts of mass, or stuff, and send them racing down ramps, rooting for their favorites to travel the farthest. In Texas, middle school students sample seawater from the Gulf of Mexico. And in Pennsylvania, kindergarten students debate what makes something a seed. Though separated by miles, age levels and scientific fields, one thing unites these students: They are all trying to make sense of the natural world by engaging in the kinds of activities that scientists do. You might have learned about or participated in such activities as part of something your teacher described as the “scientific method.” It’s a sequence of steps that take you from asking a question to arriving at a conclusion. But scientists rarely follow the steps of the scientific method as textbooks describe it. “The scientific method is a myth,” asserts Gary Garber, a physics teacher at Boston University Academy. The term “scientific method,” he explains, isn’t even something scientists themselves came up with. It was invented by historians and philosophers of science during the last century to make The Society for Science & the Public uses cookies to personalize your experience and improve our services. For more information on how we use cookies on our websites, visit our Cookie Policy. ×
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9/13/2018 Problems with ‘the scientific method’ | Science News for Students 2/6 These eighth-grade students were challenged to design a model car that would make it to the top of the ramp first — or knock a competitor's car off the ramp. They modified basic rubber-band-powered cars sense of how science works. Unfortunately, he says, the term is usually interpreted to mean there is only one, step-by-step approach to science. That’s a big misconception, Garber argues. “There isn’t one method of ‘doing science.’” In fact, he notes, there are many paths to finding out the answer to something. Which route a researcher chooses may depend on the field of science being studied. It might also depend on whether experimentation is possible, affordable — even ethical.
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  • Fall '13
  • PaulFrost
  • Science

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