• should understand the difference between scientific and other questions. They should appreciate what science and technology can reasonably contribute to society and what they cannot do. For example, new technologies often will decrease some risks and increase others.

Science and technology have advanced through contributions of many different people, in different cultures, at different times in history.

History and Nature of Science

Content Standard G

As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of

  • Science as a human endeavor

  • Nature of science

  • History of science

Developing Student Understanding

Experiences in which students actually engage in scientific investigations provide the background for developing an understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry, and will also provide a foundation for appreciating the history of science described in this standard.

The introduction of historical examples will help students see the scientific enterprise as more philosophical, social, and human. Middle-school students can thereby develop a better understanding of scientific inquiry and the interactions between science and society. In general, teachers of science should not assume that students have an accurate conception of the nature of science in either contemporary or historical contexts.

To develop understanding of the history and nature of science, teachers of science can use the actual experiences of student investigations, case studies, and historical vignettes. The intention of this standard is not to develop an overview of the complete history of science. Rather, historical examples are used to help students understand scientific inquiry, the nature of scientific knowledge, and the interactions between science and society.

Guide to the Content Standard

Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include


  • Women and men of various social and ethnic backgrounds—and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations—engage in the activities of science, engineering, and related fields such as the health professions. Some scientists work in teams, and some work alone, but all communicate extensively with others.

  • Science requires different abilities, depending on such factors as the field of study and type of inquiry. Science is very much a human endeavor, and the work of science relies on basic human qualities, such as reasoning, insight, energy, skill, and creativity—as well as on scientific habits of mind, such as intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism, and openness to new ideas.

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