Practicing Science

Principles Module 1


  • Describe some characteristics of science
  • Outline the history of the development of scientific practices
  • Describe the role of controls and variables in an experiment

Key points

  • Characteristics of science
    • question-driven
    • universal
    • based on universal laws
    • always open to new evidence
    • dependent upon peer review
  • History of scientific thought
    • Egyptian (1000 BCE) medicinal practices
    • Greek (600 BCE) thought and the concept of natural laws, empirical approach
    • Islamic scholars (400–1200 CE) employed scientific reasoning to study light, astronomy, geology, physics
    • Western European thinkers (1500’s) continue development of experimental methods
  • Experimentation & Hypothesis-testing
    • gather as much information as possible about subject
    • state a clear question
    • form a hypothesis that is testable and able to be disproven
    • design an experiment to test hypothesis (accept or refute)
    • collect data (dependent variable) during a controlled experiment in which only a single factor is manipulated (independent variable)
    • compile observations, analyze data via statistical tests for significance

Class Activities

Split class into groups of 3–4 and have the students:

  • identify a question
  • form hypothesis
  • design experiment
  • identify dependent and independent variables, control variables