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Science is a Way of Knowing

Age Level
Grades 6-12

It’s imperative that all students have a basic understanding of the scientific process. By completing this lesson, students will understand how science works and that the process of science is ongoing and continually evolving as new evidence emerges. They will also gain valuable skills in evaluating the validity of online resources and popular media content that pertains to scientific experimentation and study.

NGSS Standards

DCIs (Disciplinary Core Ideas):

  1. MS-ETS1.A1: The more precisely a design task’s criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. Specification of constraints includes consideration of scientific principles and other relevant knowledge that are likely to limit possible solutions.
  2. MS-ETS1.B2: There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.
  3. MS-ETS1.B3: Sometimes parts of different solutions can be combined to create a solution that is better than any of its predecessors.
  4. MS-ETS1.C1: Although one design may not perform the best across all the tests, identifying the characteristics of the design that performed the best in each test can provide useful information for the redesign process — that is, some of those characteristics may be incorporated into the new design.
  5. HS-ETS1.A1: Criteria and constraints also include satisfying any requirements set by society, such as taking issues of risk mitigation into account, and they should be quantified to the extent possible and stated in such a way that one can tell if a given design meets them.
  6. HS-ETS1.B1: When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Performance Expectations:

  1. MS-ETS1-1: Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  2. MS-ETS1-2: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  3. MS-ETS1-3: Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  4. HS-ETS-1-1: Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
  5. HS-ETS-1-3: Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Other Relevant NGSS References:

  1. NGSS Appendix F (pdf): Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS
  2. NGSS Appendix G (pdf): Crosscutting Concepts
  3. NGSS Appendix H (pdf): Understanding the Scientific Enterprise: The Nature of Science in the Next Generation Science Standards
  4. NGSS Appendix J (pdf): Science, Technology, Society and the Environment

Note: Due to the nature of this entire unit, these four appendices are a vital component of why these activities are important in the science classroom. While a wide variety of science topics are selected to demonstrate the nature of science, all five mini-unit lesson sets incorporate the ideals of these four appendices and provide numerous opportunities for the application of scientific knowledge across a variety of disciplines.

This is a beta version of Lesson One.

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