Science is arguably one of the most difficult disciplines to teach. Teaching science is considered difficult, because there are many topics that educators would consider abstract. Many science educators search for innovative and exciting ways to teach science with the goal of engaging students. One thing that should be taught to students to solidify their science foundation is the nature of science. The nature of science is a particular way of understanding the natural world. Research suggests that teaching students the nature of science can enhance their content knowledge and increase student achievement (Cleminson, 1990). Educators have created innovative lesson plans to teach the nature of science, and have creative ways to assess their students’ understanding.
The Nature of Science
There are many misconceptions when it comes to science, especially the understanding and teaching of science. The nature of science depicts science as an important way to understand and explain what we experience in the natural world (Bell, Maeng & Peters, 2010). The nature of science is very abstract and is conceivably easier to describe than to define. One characteristic of the nature of science is scientific knowledge is both reliable and tentative. Even though scientific knowledge is supported by experiments that have been repeated numerous times, it cannot be considered as the final word. Tests are consistently conducted to challenge previous findings (Bowen, n.d). Scientific knowledge is reliable until it is disproved by modern findings. Another characteristic of the nature of science is scientific knowledge; it is the product of observation. Observations are gathered with the use of the five senses and sometimes technology. They are the basis of all scientific inquiry. An additional characteristic of the nature of science is that scientific knowledge is derived from creative thinking. Creativity is a very important portion of science. When scientists investigate and experiment, they think of creative methods and procedures that will bring new results and understanding for their experiment. With creativity, scientists will not be limited in their field of research, but they can explore the vast possibilities that their mind can offer.
In essence, the nature of science is generally understanding of the natural world and how scientists explore theories, laws, experiments etc. and develop scientific knowledge. It’s imperative that instructors understand the nature of science thoroughly so that they can pass their passion for knowledge on to their students.
The Nature of Science in my Classroom
As a science educator, I think that it is imperative for students who are taught science to understand the nature of science. This is not something that should be taught to students in a single lesson plan, but that should be incorporated in every lesson plan and every aspect of the science classroom. I would have at least one lesson in the beginning of the course where I explicitly make the nature of science a specific goal of instruction, with lesson objectives, activities, and assessments (Bell, Maeng & Peters, 2010). I would also include aspects of the nature of science in as many lesson plans as possible throughout the course. The average student doesn’t perceive science as fun or creative, rather every science as disciplinary, difficult and boring.
As I teach my students the nature of science, I will use that opportunity to make the classroom instruction fun and exciting. I will allow my students to be creative when they approach scientific problems and encourage them to think of all the possibilities. Also, I will have my students illustrate drawings for every topic that is taught, so they can be creative with the material that is taught. The student’s drawings will then be hung around the classroom so they can observe their peers’ work. Also, by hanging the student’s drawings, the students will feel a sense of ownership of the classroom and be more comfortable. If students can connect science and art they will understand that scientific knowledge is attained by being creative.
In groups, students will have to perform their own research projects on a scientific topic of their choice. Having students work on their own research projects will allow them to make observations pertaining to the project understand that there is not only one scientific method. Lastly, my classroom will be filled with quotes that will reinforce the idea that students should be creative and observant at all times.
Students and the Nature of Science
As an educator, it is important to assess students to ensure that they have a solid understanding of the material that is has been taught to them, in this case the nature of science. There are many ways to assess students’ understanding of the nature of science. One effective way to assess students’ understanding of the nature of science is by having in class discussion where students will discuss the nature of science how it can be applied to different topics in science. Another way to assess students’ nature of science understanding is to allow time for students to free write about what they think science is to them, a few times throughout the semester. With these simple activities, educators can gauge individual students’ understanding of the nature of science and get a general consensus for the class as a whole.
Understanding the nature of science may be difficult for some students and even educators, because the concept is abstract. But the understanding of the nature of science is crucial for students to enhance their content knowledge and increase achievement in the field of science. Students should be reminded frequently throughout every science course about the nature of science and it should be visible all around the classroom. Students should be exposed to the content about the nature of science to the point that it is second nature. Educators should assess their students’ understanding of the nature of science directly and indirectly throughout the course of the year.
Bell, R., Maeng, J., & Peters, E. (2010, May 11). Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition
Scientific Inquiry and the Nature of Science Task Force Report. Retrieved fromhttp://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CC0QFjAB&url=http://www.vamsc.org/projects/VMSC_Inquiry_and_NOS_White_Paper_5_11_10.doc&ei=Nj9BT_T5Msn0AGy3pTPBw&usg=AFQjCNG5DFTvu1Akg7ai4MnVUlsiYQ2wAw&sig2=FdAgU5hkCiTNdkWgELIoaQ
Bowen, A. (n.d.). Nature of Science. Retrieved from http://www.teacherlink.org/content/science/class_examples/Bflypages/nos.htm
Cleminson, A. (1990). Establishing an epistemological base for science teaching in the light of contemporary notions of the nature of science and of how children learn science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 27, 429-445.