UNIT 1 NATURE OF SCIENCE

 

UNIT 1: NATURE OF SCIENCE

Dear students you are welcome to Unit 1. This unit takes you through the Nature of Science it is going to be interesting. We know you will surely enjoy every bit of it. Please take your time to read the learning outcomes and indicators as stated below.

Learning Outcome(s):

By the end of the course the student would be able to:

CLO 1: Describe the nature of science and its implication for teaching and learning. (NTS 2c, 2e p. 13, 3h, 3j, p. 14)

Indicators:

The student will be able to:

–     Explain the science as a body of knowledge, method for acquiring knowledge, and as an institution.

–    Explain the pedagogical implication to the teaching and learning process

–    Explain why we teach science in basic schools

–    Describe at least six characteristics of scientific knowledge

–    Describe the processes and product of science

–    Differentiate between science and technology

Well done for reading the above. Now do the activity below

Activity 1:

Brainstorm the meaning of Science. Compare your answer with the information below

1.1 Meaning/Some Definitions of Science

Science comes from the Latin word Scientia which means knowledge

Science may be defined as:

–    A method of exploring the environment by observing things and solving problems

–     The gathering and recording of information to find answers to questions and challenges of human race

–    A method of obtaining knowledge through observation and experimentation

–    A process of generating knowledge

–     A  way  of  learning  that  involves  first  hand  experiences,  inquiry,  problem  solving, communication of findings

–    That body of knowledge which can be communicated to others and which can be verified

by anyone willing to make the efforts to do so.

From the various meaning of science we can now say that: science is a way of learning which involves first hand experiences, inquiry, problem solving, interpretation and communication of findings.

Science is a process of generating knowledge and a search for explanation. Science is both a process and a product

Dear student you are to answer the question in Activity 2

  • Activity 2:

How will you explain science as a body of knowledge? The content below will help you to explain it better

1.1.1 Categories or Group of Science

Science is divided into two broad categories. These are Pure Science and Applied Science

Pure science: Pure Science deals with the attempt to understand nature

Applied Science: Applied Science deals with the use of the knowledge acquired in pure science

Branches of Pure Science

Pure Science can be grouped into three main branches. These are Biology, Chemistry and Physics

  1. Biology is the study of living organism (plant and animal) and their interactions with each other and the environment
  2. Chemistry is the study of the composition and existence of matter
  3. Physics is concerned with the forces that exist between objects and their interrelationship between matter and energy.

Some Fields of Applied Science

Meteorology; Engineering; Medicine; Pharmacy; Geography; Agriculture; Forestry; Horticulture; Environmental Health; Sociology; Geology; Psychology; Astronomy.

Dear student please answer the question below

  • Activity 3:

Explain science as an institution. Read the content below to add up to your answer

1.1.2 Fields of Science

We have two fields of science. These are the Natural Science and Social Science.

Natural Science deals with problems of nature. Examples are Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Geology,  Agriculture,  Engineering,  and  Astronomy.  Social  Science deals  with  problems  of Economics and Political Science.

Both Natural and Social Scientist have some characteristics in common. They both use scientific methods or processes to acquire knowledge and achieve their objectives. However, their products of findings differ. The findings of socialist are not reliable. It is also not reproducible because taste of people change with time. The products of Natural Scientists are universal, can be reproduced, predicted and reliable.

Dear student please attempt Activity 4 below

Activity 4:

  • Explain Science as a method for acquiring knowledge. Read the information below to assist you to explain it better.

1.1.3 What Are Scientific Methods

Scientist methods are the procedures used by scientist to solve problems. The steps to follow are:

  1. Recognizing a problem
  2. Collecting information about the problem
  3. Making hypothesis
  4. Devising an experiment
  5. Observing and recording result
  6. Analysing the result (making deductions)
  7. Drawing conclusion and generalisations.

Importance of Scientific Method

  1. It provides logical procedures for arriving at knowledge.
  2. It provides knowledge that can be verified or tested
  3. It provides information on the existence of species which were otherwise thought not to exist
  4. It leads to discovery of new things.

Dear student please answer the questions in Activity 5

Activity 5

  • State and explain any four pedagogical implications of teaching and learning process in science.
  • Mention and explain three scientific attitudes that can be developed in JHS learners.
  • Mention two (2) values in science and explain how they contribute to the development of Science.

1.2 Implications to the Teaching and Learning Process (Pedagogical Implications)

  1. Learners should accurately apply appropriate science concept, principles, laws and theories in interacting with the universe.
  2. Learners should  use processes  in  science in  solving  problems,  making  decision  and furthering their own understanding of the universe.
  3. Learners should interact with the various aspects of the universe in way that is consistent with the values that underline science.
  4. Learners  should   develop   scientific   attitudes   such   as   scientific   objectivity,   open mindedness, curiosity, perseverance, flexibility, respect for evidence, reflection, honesty, critical mindedness, thoroughness.
  5. Leaners should be familiar with some values in science and how they contribute to the development of science. Some values in science includes: longing to know and understand, questioning of all things, request for logic, consideration of premises, respect diversity, equity commitment to achieve excellence, team work/collaboration, truth and integrity.

Activity 6:

Explain why we teach science in the Basic schools. The content below will assist you to answer it better.

1.3 Why Teach Science in Basic School

1. Cognitive Domain (Thinking Process)

a. To help pupils to discriminate between relevant and irrelevant informati

  1. To acquire basic concepts in science concerning phenomena in their environment and themselves.
  2. c. Think logically and learn to interpret finding in a logical manne
  3. Acquire basic  science  knowledge  necessary  to  appreciate  and  solve  simple problems in their environment.
  4. e. Learn to classify materials, objects and animal

2. Affective Domain (Attitude and Interests)

  1. a. To develop in the child the ability to ask questions about phenomena in their environment
  2. Develop interest in and show an appreciation of the natural environment.
  3. c. Helps the pupils to realize that the environment can be controlled or improve d.   To appreciate the importance of science in everyday life a well as its limitation.
  4. e. To  help  the  child  develop  interest  in  carrying  out  scientific  research  and investigations.
  5. Psychomotor Domain (Practical/Process Skills)
  6. a. Conducting experiments and making measuremen
  7. Communicating ideas orally and in written form (recording). c.  To develop hand-eye co-ordination.
  8. Manipulating objects in their environment.

Activity 7:

You are to describe briefly any six (6) activity of scientific knowledge. Compare your answer with the information provided below.

1.4 Characteristics of Scientific Knowledge

CHARACTERISTICS MEANING
Tentative It is subject to change and therefore it does not claim to be absolute truth in final stage.
Replicable It is based on evidence which could be replicated by other investigators working at different places
Verifiability Scientific knowledge is based on verifiable evidence (concrete factual observations) so that other observers can observe, weigh or measure the same phenomena and check out observation for accuracy. Science does not have answers for everything. It deals with only those questions about which verifiable evidence can be found.
Empirical Scientific knowledge is based on observation and experiment not theory. However, theory may serve as useful guide for further work.
Precision Scientific knowledge is precise. It is not vague like some literary writing. “Every moment dies a man; every moment one is born”, is good literature but not science. To be a good science, it should be written as: “In India, according to the 2001 census, every 10th second, on the average, dies a man; every 4th second, on the average, an infant is born.” Precision requires giving exact number or measurement. Instead of saying “most of the people are against same sex marriages,” a scientific researcher says, “Ninety per cent people are against same sex marriages”.
Systematic exploration A scientific research adopts a certain sequential procedure, an organized plan or design of research for collecting and analysis of facts about the problem under study.

 

Objectivity Objectivity means the ability to see and accept facts as they are, not as one might wish them to be. To be objective, one has to guard against his own biases, beliefs, wishes, values and preferences. Objectivity demands that one must set aside all sorts of the subjective considerations and prejudices.
Accuracy Scientific knowledge is accurate. A physician, like a common man, will not say that the patient has slight temperature or having very high temperature but after measuring with the help of thermometer, he will pronounce that the patient is having 39 oC temperature. Accuracy simply means truth or correctness of a statement or describing things in exact words as they are without jumping to unwarranted conclusions.
Reliability Scientific knowledge must occur under the prescribed circumstances not once but repeatedly. It is reproducible under the circumstances stated anywhere and anytime. Conclusions based on casual recollections are not very reliable.
Ethical Neutrality Science is ethically neutral. It only seeks knowledge. How this knowledge is to be used, is determined by societal values. Knowledge can be put to differing uses. Knowledge about atomic energy can be used to cure diseases or to wage atomic warfare. Ethical neutrality does not mean that the scientist has no values. It here only means that he must not allow his values to distort the design and conduct of his research. Thus, scientific knowledge is value-neutral or value-free.

Dear learner we hope you are enjoying your lesson. You are to answer questions in Activity 8

Activity 8:

  • What are the processes of science?
  • Describe any five processes of science

1.5 Process of Science

What are the processes of science?

The processes of sciences are the procedures used by scientist. It involves observation, prediction, measuring and calculation, manipulation, designing and making experiment, communication, inferring, hypothesis, drawing conclusion, raising questions.

The process skills are:

Predicting,   raising   questions,   making   hypothesis,   manipulation,   observation,   recording, experimentation, planning, observation and drawing conclusion.

No Generic / Process Skills Explanation / Meaning
Planning Defining the problem and thinking of ways to solve it

through     experimentation,     or     some     structured investigation.

Observation It involves the use of the sense to take in information.
Classification Placing a collection of objects or events in categories based on similar characteristics.
Experimentation / Fair Testing Interaction with materials to find out things for yourself or managing the factors that may influence a situation or event so that the effect of a given factor may be learned.
Raising Questions Asking a variety of questions through words or actions; asking  questions  which  can  be  answered  through scientific investigation / experimentation.
Measuring Using   measuring   instruments   correctly   and   with appropriate precision as required by the investigation, and being able to compute result from measurements taken.
Manipulation Skillful handling of objects and tools in accomplishing a task.
Prediction Forecasting what future observation will be on the basis of previous information, which distinguishes it from guessing.
Interpretation data Giving meaning to information gathered.
Hypothesis Suggesting reasons for events or phenomena, which can be tested scientifically. It involves applying concepts and ideas from previous experience.
Inferring Explaining an observation in terms of one’s previous experience.
Generalizing Extending the conclusion of an experiment to other similar situations; being able to predict possible solutions to similar problems based on the result of a previous experiment.
Evaluation Assessing  the  result  of  the  experiment  and  finding conclusion or inferring conclusions from the experiment; determine whether results confirm one’s prior predictions or not.

 

Communication                            Being able to present information so that it can be understood by others, being able to understand information from others presented in various forms using          graphs,   charts,   prose,   written   instruction, diagrams, pictorial and oral representation.

Dear learner you are to answer the question in Activity 9

Activity 9:

  • What are the products of science?
  • States any two (2) differences between science as a process and science as a product.

1.6 The Product of Science

The processes you used to arrive at a conclusion is referred to as Process of Science. The scientist ends up an investigation or research by making discoveries of facts and concepts, formulating generalizations, theories and laws. These are known as ‘Products of Science’. Examples are facts drawn from Experiments, theories such as Atomic Theory and Mendel’s Theory, law such as law of gravity, law of conservation of water, law of floatation, and principles such as Archimedes’ principles.

Principles such as Archimedes’ Principles

The processes and products of science relate to one another. One depends on the other and they are both inseparable. Thus, without processes, there is no scientific knowledge (product).

Activity 10:

  • You are to differentiate between science and technology. The content provided below will guide you.

1.7 Science and Technology

1.7.1 Meaning of science

Science can be defined in various ways, such as:

  • A knowledge-generating process
  • A way of learning, which involves first-hand experiences, inquiry, problem solving, interpretation and communication of ideas.

1.7.2 Meaning of technology

Technology has also been defined in various ways:

  • A process by which scientific knowledge and discoveries are applied and used.
  • A discipline process using scientific materials and human resources to achieve human processes.
  • The purposeful use of man’s knowledge and materials, resources of energy and natural phenomena.
  • The totality of the means employed by people to provide materials objects for human sustenance and comfort

1.7.3 Relationship Between Science and Technology

The definitions above portray technology as the application of scientific knowledge for human use. In other words, technology is a direct product of science.

1.7.4 Similarities Between Science and Technology

  1. They are closely interwoven
  2. They are both reproductive
  3. They both create or solve human problems.

1.7.5 Differences Between Science and Technology

SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY
1.   The product (principles) are intangible (cannot be seen or touched)

2.   Can be demonstrated and understood

3.   Changes occur only gradually

1.   The products (machines or other devices) are tangible

 

2.   Can be brought and used without understanding

 

3.   Can be changed and improved on in a relatively short time

 

1.7.6 Importance of Science

  1. Science is important to the public because it helps address issues that are concern to the general population.
  2. Scientific principles have been and continue to be applied to address issues, concerns and problems that people face in the day to day aspects of living.
  3. Scientific research has value and importance to the layperson to the extent that it helps address problems of a practical nature.
  4. How science is taught and learned can determine its relevance to the majority of students, not only to those planning career in scientific fields.

 

1.7.7 Limitation of Science

  1. Practice of science is a human activity
  2. Anything outside the sense is not science
  3. a. Anything beyond the boundary of senses b.   No spiritual things in science
  4. There is an authority in science and when that authority speaks then that is the end of it (observation)
  1. a. Truth being relative
  2. One truth being replaced by another truth
  3. There is a building up on this observation
  4. Method of science are based on observation but not limited to it.
  5. From observation there are generalizations based on explanations and these are further tested by observation (building up process)

1.7.8 Importance of Technology

Technology is the use of scientific knowledge for our human comfort. Technology can also be explained as the use of scientific equipment for making work easier.

The relationship between science and technology is that science produces the knowledge and technology uses the knowledge for practical applications, for example, technologists use the knowledge of electricity and metals to produce refrigerator, electric iron and electric cookers. They also use the knowledge about sound to produce telephones for communication, use the knowledge of light to produce lenses, camera and microscopes. Without scientific knowledge there is no technology. Each depends on the other.

1.7.9 Effects of Technology on the society

  1. a. Information technology has improve Now we have computer for processing information very fast
  2. Foo technology has brought new methods for processing and preserving of foods
  3. c. Health technology has improved the life of pe We have three ways of medical treatment now. These are the orthodox medicine, traditional/herbs medicine and computer medicine. We also have gadget for treating heart, cancer and kidney diseases.
  4. In agriculture we have new breeds of seeds, improved crop storage and new agricultural machinery.

Knowledge has brought understanding and awareness to the society. For example, people are aware of how flood and earthquakes occur and know what to do in these situations. They are also aware of HIV/AIDS and are taking steps to avoid it.

Dear student you are welcome to the last Activity of this unit to be precise Activity 11. Well done for completing the last ten (10) Activities above.

Activity 11:

  • What is a traditional belief?
  • Discuss any two effects of traditional belief on science teaching.
  • State three reasons why beliefs are held.

1.8 Relationship Between Science and Local Beliefs in the Teaching of Science

1.8.1 What is a traditional belief?

Traditional beliefs are beliefs and taboos handed over to us by our ancestors. These beliefs are not challenged but we accept them. They differ from one ethnic group to another. In America the number thirteen is considered as a bad omen. That is, they do not use it to number their houses, rooms and floors.

In Ghana, there many cultural beliefs and practices pupils learn at home. Pupils with these beliefs and prejudiced minds come into conflict with the science they learn at school. Scientific research has shown that some traditional beliefs have real scientific bases so our ancestors have reason for giving such beliefs and taboos.

The traditional beliefs and taboos which have good scientific bases are termed positive beliefs but those without good scientific bases are known as “negative beliefs”

1.8.2 Positive Beliefs and Their Scientific Explanations

  1. Beliefs: One should not talk whilst eating else the offender will die

Scientific explanation: In talking, sound is produced by expelling air from the lungs and inhaling large volumes of air. So, when one talks whilst eating there is the possibility of food getting into the lungs. The presence of food in the lungs is harmful and this might cause death. The child is barred from talking in order not to die.

  1. Belief: One should not sing when bathing else the offender’s mother would die

Scientific explanation: to produce sound, air must be expelled from the lungs, and to obtain enough air for the activity, the singer must inhale large volume of air. That is, when one sings whilst bathing there is possibility of inhaling water and soap into the lungs. The presence of these items in the lings is harmful and may cause death. The child is therefore deterred from singing whilst bathing in order not to cause death of their mother whom they love so much. Secondly caustic soda which is used in preparing soap is very strong (highly corrosive) and this will cause serious burns when it gets to the lungs. Thus, the child is barred from singing

  1. Belief: At funerals we do not go around corpse weeping else the corpse will decompose immediately.

Scientific explanation: At funerals, there is decomposition of the corps which gives bad odour due to heat in the crowded room. Inhaling such polluted air may give one an airborne disease because the corpse was not properly embalmed in the olden days. Only local herbs were used. To avoid this, people were deterred by the fact that the corpse will decompose immediately. If you do not want your loved one or relative’s corpse to decompose, you stop crying immediately.

1.8.3 Negative Beliefs and Their Scientific Explanation

  1. Belief: Whatever elders say is indisputable truth and should not be questioned.

Scientific explanation: It has no scientific basis. It is used to deter people from asking questions about the taboo.

  1. Belief: Pregnant women are not supposed to eat snails or eggs else the unborn baby will become a thief in future.

Scientific explanation: This taboo deprives pregnant women of proteins which the unborn baby needs to build the body. It has no scientific basis and can lead to miscarriage

  1. Belief: one should not shout when a ghost is seen else you may have sores around your mouth.

Scientific explanation: Has no scientific basis.

1.8.4 What Are the Reasons for Using Traditional Beliefs in Teaching Science?

Most of the traditional beliefs and taboos in our locality are backed by long experiences of our ancestors. Many reasons have been given and some of them are:

  1. Personal safety of the individual and society. For example one should not sing whilst bathing else the offender’s mother would die.
  1. The maintenance of personal hygiene and to check the spread of disease. For example we do not cry around a corpse else the corpse will decompose immediately
  2. Preventing cruelty to others and to animals. For examples, we do not throw stones at pregnant animals else the offender’s mother will get a miscarriage
  1. Instilling good social habits. For example, we do not have sex in the bush else the gods will curse you.

1.8.5 Effects of Traditional Beliefs on Science Teaching

  1. Makes the teaching and learning of science very difficult because the pupils/students are reluctant to assimilate what they see as inconsistent with their local life.
  2. The local beliefs could be a good source for the application of science knowledge.
  3. Sensitise science teachers to relate scientific knowledge to home knowledge.
  4. Make students appreciate the wisdom of local folks.

1.8.6 Effects of Unscientific Traditional Beliefs on the Teaching and Learning of Science

  1. Makes the teaching and learning of science difficult because students do not see any relation between scientific knowledge and the local belief.
  2. It promotes superstition which is inconsistent leads to research
  3. Arouses curiosity in the student and this leads to research.

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