SEP: How Science Works
How Science Works is one of the publication themes of the Gatsby Science Enhancement Programme. For other publication themes, visit the SEP homepage.
Recent changes in the curriculum have emphasised the importance of developing in students an understanding of what scientists do, the nature of science, and the way that science relates to the broader society. SEP has developed publications that look at the range of different kinds of scientific investigations, some tools for undertaking investigations, and at teaching about ‘ideas and evidence’ and contemporary scientific issues.
Scientists undertake a wide variety of different kinds of investigations, though in the past, investigations carried out in school have been more limited, with an emphasis on fair testing. Beyond Fair Testing: Teaching Different Types of Scientific Enquiry helps students to carry out a wide range of investigations involving pattern-seeking, identification, designing systems and testing models.
ICT in Practical Science: New Approaches to Data Collection and Analysis looks at the plethora of ways in which ICT applications can be used to support practical science. It outlines ways in which sensors and datalogging equipment can be used to collect and analyse first-hand data using available (often free) software. Small Beginnings: Introducing Digital Microscopes in Physical Science looks at how low-cost microscopes could be used in the early secondary school.
Modelling Climate Change examines how computer models can be used and looks at the science behind the models. It considers the simplifications that are made when complex situations are modelled, and some of the characteristics of systems behaviour such as negative and positive feedback.
SEP collaborated with the Key Stage 3 Science Strategy to produce Teaching Ideas and Evidence, which includes a variety of lessons in this area. This project led to two further resources: Contemporary Science Issues: Lessons for Key Stage 4 with a set of 18 lessons in biology, chemistry and physics, and Enriching School Science for the Gifted Learner with classroom activities for gifted and talented students aged 14-16.
Focussing on what scientists do, the booklet Using Catalyst Magazine: How Scientists Work shows ways in which articles from the Catalyst magazine archive can be used to teach about ‘How Science Works’ (HSW). It takes six exemplar articles and, through student activities and supporting notes, it shows how different aspects of HSW can be explored.
HEALTH and SAFETY
Any use of a resource that includes a practical activity must include a risk assessment. Please note that collections may contain ARCHIVE resources, which were developed at a much earlier date. Since that time there have been significant changes in the rules and guidance affecting laboratory practical work. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.
Resource by: Gatsby Science Enhancement Programme