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Online Course for Teachers: Teaching Evolution

About this Course 

SESSION 1

SESSION 1: What Is the Nature of Science?

Facilitator Notes for Session 1

Engage Part B
Note 1: Use this activity to build a sense of community for the class and to surface misconceptions. Compare survey results and discuss the findings. Ask participants what they think can be done to educate the public about the nature of science and why it is important to understand this concept.

Engage Part C
Note 2: Concept maps are a valuable tool for surfacing participants' current knowledge and identifying any misconceptions they might have. Here is a sample map for processes of science.

Explore Part B
Note 3: Key points from this quotation are:
• Science creates possible hypotheses about nature and tests them
• Science is not a linear process; there's lots of playing with ideas involved

Note 4: Compare and discuss participant results from various high school biology texts. Ask participants what they might do to augment their text's explanations about scientific processes.

Explain Part B
Note 5: It would be worthwhile to have teachers discuss effective ways that they have found to help students understand scientific terminology and process. For a good activity on teaching about the nature of science, read Introducing Inquiry and the Nature of Science on the National Academy of Science Web site.

Elaborate Part A
Note 6: This would be valuable as a facilitated discussion.

Elaborate Part B
Note 7: Sample answers to questions:

  • This activity demonstrates the tentative nature of science and scientific explanations. New evidence is constantly collected and interpreted. Although the same evidence may support different hypotheses, some evidence may more strongly support some hypotheses than others.

  • Scientists can determine the best hypothesis by considering: Which hypothesis has the most and strongest data supporting it? Which hypothesis has no conflicting evidence? Which hypothesis has multiple lines of evidence supporting it? Do the alternative hypotheses lack significant evidence? Which hypothesis meets the criteria of a "fair test"?

Elaborate Part D
Note 8: Discuss how teachers use/teach science process effectively in their own classrooms.

Evaluate Part B
Note 9: Ask participants to share revised concept maps. Together identify the most complete, accurate critical elements of science processes on the concept maps.

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