Table 2-3. Content Standard for Science as Inquiry: Fundamental Understandings About Scientific Inquiry

Grades K-4

  • Scientific investigations involve asking and answering a question and comparing the answer with what scientists already know about the world.

  • Scientists use different kinds of investigations depending on the questions they are trying to answer.

  • Simple instruments, such as magnifiers, thermometers, and rulers, provide more information than scientists obtain using only their senses.

  • Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge).

  • Scientists make the results of their investigations public; they describe the investigations in ways that enable others to repeat the investigations.

  • Scientists review and ask questions about the results of other scientists’ work.

Grades 5-8

  • Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations.

  • Current scientific knowledge and understanding guide scientific investigations.

  • Mathematics is important in all aspects of scientific inquiry.

  • Technology used to gather data enhances accuracy and allows scientists to analyze and quantify results of investigations.

  • Scientific explanations emphasize evidence, have logically consistent arguments, and use scientific principles, models, and theories.

  • Science advances through legitimate skepticism.

  • Scientific investigations sometimes result in new ideas and phenomena for study, generate new methods or procedures for an investigation, or develop new technologies to improve the collection of data.

Grades 9-12

  • Scientists usually inquire about how physical, living, or designed systems function.

  • Scientists conduct investigations for a wide variety of reasons.

  • Scientists rely on technology to enhance the gathering and manipulation of data.

  • Mathematics is essential in scientific inquiry.

  • Scientific explanations must adhere to criteria such as: a proposed explanation must be logically consistent; it must abide by the rules of evidence; it must be open to questions an possible modification; and it must be based on historical and current scientific knowledge.

  • Results of scientific inquiry — new knowledge and methods — emerge from different types of investigations and public communication among scientists.

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