From the Recommended Standards
STANDARD 7: HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE – The student will develop understanding of science as a human endeavor, the nature of scientific knowledge, and historical perspectives.
Benchmark 2: The student will develop an understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge.
The student …
1. understands scientific knowledge describes and explains the physical world in terms of matter, energy, and forces. Scientific knowledge is provisional and is subject to change as new evidence becomes available.
a. Additional evidence can lead to further confirmation, revision and refinement, or rejection of previously accepted explanations.
b. The core theories of science have a high degree of reliability within the limits to which they have been tested and their scope of applicability.
c. The open-endedness of science is its greatest strength and allows for constant refining and improvement of our explanations.
2. understands scientific knowledge begins with empirical observations, which are the data (also called facts or evidence) upon which further scientific knowledge is built.
a. The breadth and depth of sensory observations are enhanced by technological instruments such as microscopes, telescopes, and oscilloscopes.
b. Observations often include measurements, to varying degrees of accuracy and precision, so they can be described and analyzed with mathematics.
c. Observational data is gathered in a number of ways, including controlled experiments, field studies, and the systematic observation of natural phenomena.
3. understands scientific knowledge consists of hypotheses, inferences, laws, and theories.
a. A hypothesis is a testable statement that is subject to further investigation and potential confirmation
b. An inference is a testable conclusion, based on previously established knowledge, observed evidence, and logic.
c. A law is a thoroughly tested descriptive generalization of a highly regular phenomenon, usually expressed in mathematical form.
d. A theory is a broad explanation that integrates a wide range of observations and tested hypotheses, inferences, and laws (when applicable) into a meaningful and coherent whole.
4. understands a testable hypothesis or inference must be subject to confirmation by empirical evidence
a. A valid hypothesis or inference must be potentially falsifiable.
b. A hypothesis or inference is tested by making logical predictions about what observational data one would expect to exist, given the hypothesis, and then comparing actual observed data to the predicted data, which will either support or not support the hypothesis.