History and Nature of Science

Content Standard G

As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of

  • Science as a human endeavor

  • Nature of scientific knowledge

  • Historical perspectives

Developing Student Understanding

The National Science Education Standards use history to elaborate various aspects of scientific inquiry, the nature of science, and science in different historical and cultural perspectives. The standards on the history and nature of science are closely aligned with the nature of science and historical episodes described in the American Association for the Advancement of Science Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Teachers

Scientists value peer review, truthful reporting about the methods and outcomes of investigations, and making public the results of work.

of science can incorporate other historical examples that may accommodate different interests, topics, disciplines, and cultures—as the intention of the standard is to develop an understanding of the human dimensions of science, the nature of scientific knowledge, and the enterprise of science in society—and not to develop a comprehensive understanding of history.

Little research has been reported on the use of history in teaching about the nature of science. But learning about the history of science might help students to improve their general understanding of science. Teachers should be sensitive to the students' lack of knowledge and perspective on time, duration, and succession when it comes to historical study. High school students may have difficulties understanding the views of historical figures. For example, students may think of historical figures as inferior because they did not understand what we do today. This "Whiggish perspective" seems to hold for some students with regard to scientists whose theories have been displaced.

Guide to the Content Standard

Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include


  • Individuals and teams have contributed and will continue to contribute to the scientific enterprise. Doing science or engineering can be as simple as an individual conducting field studies or as complex as hundreds of people working on a major scientific question or technological problem. Pursuing science as a career or as a hobby can be both fascinating and intellectually rewarding.

  • Scientists have ethical traditions. Scientists value peer review, truthful reporting about the methods and outcomes of investigations, and making

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