Understanding science

I’ve been a longtime fan of Understanding Science from the University of California Museum of Paleontology at Berkeley. It’s a comprehensive resource for learning more about the processes of science as used in the real world. The processes of science are represented as fluid and iterative, showing that science does not follow a structured recipe. The three main components of the website are Understanding Science 101, a “primer on the nature and process of science.” Another link leads to Teaching Resources, with grade-specific suggestions. And the Resource Library has sections on misconceptions and case studies as well as links to articles, tutorials, and interactives. If the first unit in your science textbook describes “THE” scientific method as a traditional, rigid flowchart, head to this site right away.

This is similar in design to Berkeley’s Evolution 101 website, another treasure of lessons and resources for K-12

As they say on TV informercials – But wait! There’s more…

How Science Works has been adapted as an online course for middle- and high-school science educators to “broaden their own knowledge and understanding and to use with students, the course weaves together activities, videos, and classroom-ready materials into a primer on the process of science that includes exploration and discovery, testing ideas, community feedback and peer review, and benefits and outcomes.” The course is free and downloadable for iOS devices from iTunes.

I’ve downloaded the course to my iPad (but you’ll need an Internet connection to access the videos and documents). The course has many similarities to the website, but it is designed as a focused learning tool. Each “lesson” includes an overview and links to the videos and articles related to the topic. At key places, the user is invited to reflect or describe their learning, using either the built-in notes or another personal journal or notebook. And there is a section on the connections between the NGSS and the course topics.

I could see this being used for independent study or by a study group (either in-person or online). And it’s FREE.

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One Comment

  1. Peggy Ashbrook
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I agree that the Understanding Science is an excellent resource–enjoyable to read, easy to read just a few sections at a time, with interesting tidbits of science history. It’s for anyone interested in science, and teachers of all grade levels can benefit from reading sections of it. Elementary teachers who help students prepare science fair projects may find the “How science works” section particularly illuminating.

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