Questions in Science

Ask away …

Now earlier on, I said that science ask questions about the “world around us”. That needs a bit more clarification. There are lots of things happening around us that are not particularly suited to the kinds of investigations we do in science.

It’s not the first job of science to tell you how to organise a birthday party nor to say how much a country should spend on its navy nor even to tell you whether or not it’s not cool to wear sandals with socks.

But scientists can have hobbies and opinions outside their science of course. For example many people including scientists are interested in the history of science, and who is and who has been influential in the scientific world.

Spotlight on Mary Anning

The video below tells the story of Mary Anning – a very highly regarded palaeontologist. In her own time, Mary wasn’t given credit for her work and she struggled to get her voice heard. The information in this video has come from historical knowledge about who Mary was and what she did. And the observations and analysis that Mary Anning carried out – well that’s science! She made countless observations of fossils she found on beaches near her home to come up with ideas about what kinds of animals once lived there. By the way, Mary Anning is on the curriculum for primary science so a good scientist to include in your lessons.

Sorting Questions

Questions and topics ‘in’ science include the kinds of questions you ask while you’re doing science in practice together with the kinds of ideas that scientists ask. So ‘What’s my hypothesis’ and ‘Do lemons float?’ are questions ‘in’ science. Questions ‘about’ science include questions like, ‘Why do people say that Galileo is the father of science?’ and ‘Can science answer every question we come up with?’

Take a look at the questions below – decide if they are questions IN science or questions ABOUT science …

Is it true that Newton invented the catflap?

Do these observations indicate a conclusive answer to our question or shall we carry on with the experiment for a while longer?

What can we use in this investigation to measure the lengths of the strands of spaghetti before we test them?

One of my favourite physics investigations is where scientists tested whether it is ever possible to break a piece of spaghetti into two. What do you think they found out?

Now try this …

If you were going to research the life and times of a scientist, which scientists would you want to research and why?

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