Standard 2: The Characteristics of Scientific Knowledge

A: Scientific knowledge is based on empirical evidence, and is appropriate for understanding the natural world, but it provides only a limited understanding of the supernatural, aesthetic, or other ways of knowing, such as art, philosophy, or religion.

B: Scientific knowledge is durable and robust, but open to change.

C: Because science is based on empirical evidence it strives for objectivity, but as it is a human endeavor the processes, methods, and knowledge of science include subjectivity, as well as creativity and discovery.

General Information
Number: SC.912.N.2
Title: The Characteristics of Scientific Knowledge
Type: Standard
Subject: Science
Grade: 912
Body of Knowledge: Nature of Science

Related Benchmarks

This cluster includes the following benchmarks.

Related Access Points

This cluster includes the following access points.

Independent

SC.912.N.2.In.1
Identify examples of investigations that involve science.
SC.912.N.2.In.2
Distinguish between questions that can be answered by science and observable information and questions that can’t be answered by science and observable information.
SC.912.N.2.In.3
Recognize that scientific knowledge can be challenged or confirmed by new investigations and reexamination.
SC.912.N.2.In.4
Identify major contributions of scientists.

Supported

SC.912.N.2.Su.1
Identify questions that can be answered by science.
SC.912.N.2.Su.2
Recognize that what is known about science can change based on new information.
SC.912.N.2.Su.3
Recognize major contributions of scientists.

Participatory

SC.912.N.2.Pa.1
Recognize an example of work by scientists.
SC.912.N.2.Pa.2
Recognize a variety of cause-effect relationships related to science.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this topic.

Lesson Plans

What's Your Type?:

In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text intended to support reading in the content area.The article explains the advancements that scientists have made in understanding blood types. By reading and synthesizing the text, students will explore a real-world example of how scientific knowledge becomes more robust and durable through investigations. This lesson includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.

Type: Lesson Plan

Languages: Barriers to Global Science?:

In this lesson, students will analyze an intended to support reading in the content area. The research article discusses different languages as barriers to the transfer of knowledge within the scientific community and then provides potential resolutions to aid in the reduction of language barriers. This lesson includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.

Type: Lesson Plan

How Did Tuberculosis Reach the New World?:

This informational text is designed to support reading in the content area. The article from the National Science Foundation discusses research conducted on the origin of tuberculosis in the Americas. Scientists discovered tuberculosis in skeletons which pre-dated the arrival of Europeans to the New World. Through the analysis of tuberculosis DNA, it was discovered that the New World tuberculosis showed a clear relationship to lineages found in seals and sea lions, suggesting they carried the disease to the Americas pre-Columbus. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.

Type: Lesson Plan

Termites to the Rescue!:

In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text from the National Science Foundation that discusses how termites in semi-arid ecosystems are preventing the process of desertification in these areas. The article also describes how and why scientific models are being used in this research. This lesson is designed to support reading in the content area. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.

Type: Lesson Plan

Drama in the Deep:

In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text intended to support reading in the content area. The article describes the interactions between three different microorganisms and the implications on the food webs found in the oceans near Antarctica. Phytoplankton and bacteria are competing for food and resources in previously unknown ways. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric. Numerous options to extend the lesson are also included.

Type: Lesson Plan

Exploring the Heart of the Atom:

In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text intended to support reading in the content area. The article explains the strides scientists at Jefferson Lab are making toward revising our view of the atom via an upgrade to their CEBAF particle accelerator. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric. Numerous options to extend the lesson are also included.

Type: Lesson Plan

Phosphorus: Fertilizer of the Sea:

In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text intended to support reading in the content area. The text explains how scientists worked with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to try and better understand the phosphorus cycle in marine ecosystems. The author points out that although the phosphorus cycle has been studied in the past, the work chronicled in the article has greatly expanded that understanding. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric. Numerous options to extend the lesson are also included.

Type: Lesson Plan

Everyday Mysteries: Why Do We Yawn?:

In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text that seeks to answer the question "Why do we yawn?" Students will learn that while many claims regarding the social and physiological functions of yawning have been presented from Hippocrates, 17th and 18th century scientists, and experts today, scientists have yet to reach a consensus about the answer to the title question. All the while, this frequent challenge and re-examination of scientific claims helps to strengthen scientific knowledge. This lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric, as well as options to extend the lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

Atomic Theory Stations - Eckert:

This is a set of 8 stations (each station lasts 15-20 minutes) that students may complete individually or in small groups. The stations focus on the development of the atomic theory and introduce students to the concept of the subatomic particles, how they were discovered, and where they are located within the atom. The stations can be grouped together and used as one lesson for 2-3 consecutive days, or they can be split into smaller increments and used over the course of several lessons.

Type: Lesson Plan

Measuring with Inchworms:

Using the book Inch by Inch students will use nonstandard units to measure animal cutouts and record their findings.

Type: Lesson Plan

Cleaning Up Your Act:

Cleaning Up Your Act Model Eliciting Activity (MEA) provides students with a real world engineering problem in which they must work as a team to design a procedure to select the best material for cleaning up an oil spill. The main focus of this MEA is to recognize the consequences of a catastrophic event, and understand the environmental and economical impact based on data analysis. Students will conduct individual and team investigations in order to arrive at a scientifically sound solution to the problem.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

MAP Gas Study:

This MEA presents data on modified atmospheric packaging (MAP) gas mixtures. Students are given standard data and asked to apply it to a new product.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Profile: Judah Folkman Cancer Research:

This PBS/NOVA lesson combines a discussion of the Nature of Science using a renowned Cancer researcher (and supported by the profiles of several other renowned scientists in the activities) to study concepts of creativity and tentativeness in the Nature of Science with a study of the biological characteristics of cells in disease (cancer).

Type: Lesson Plan

T Rex Blood?:

A PBS Nova Podcast/Video with accompanying activities that introduce and explore paleontology and the geologic timescale through analysis of fossil bones.

Type: Lesson Plan

Checks Lab:

Each team has an envelope containing a series of bank checks. A few are removed at a time, and the team attempts to construct a plausible scenario which involves those checks. With each subsequent removal of checks, appropriate revision of the scenario is done. Final scenarios are compared by the class. Class discussion is designed to show how human values and biases influence observation and interpretation, even in science. This is one of the few nature-of-science lessons which have a biological connection.

Type: Lesson Plan

Invasive or Not?:

In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text that discusses new evidence regarding the status of the Arctic ground squirrel. The species was previously thought to be an invasive species on Chirikof Island off the coast of Alaska, but new evidence calls this belief into question. The lesson plan includes a vocabulary note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.

Type: Lesson Plan

Lesson 5: Harmful Algal Blooms:

 This lesson covers:

•What harmful algal blooms are

•How harmful algal blooms occur

•Different types of harmful algal blooms and where they occur in Florida

Type: Lesson Plan

Lesson Study Resource Kit

Exploring Diversity and Evolution: A Lesson Study Resource Kit for grades 9-12:

This lesson study resource kit is designed to support lesson study teams in developing a unit of instruction for students in grades 9-12 on the topic of diversity and evolution.

Type: Lesson Study Resource Kit

Original Student Tutorials

Newton's Insight: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants:

Discover how Isaac Newton's background, talents, interests, and goals influenced his groundbreaking work in this interactive tutorial.

This is part 4 in a 4-part series. Click below to explore the other tutorials in the series.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Defining Science:

Learn how to define what science is and what it is not. In this interactive tutorial, you will identify why certain ways of exploring the universe can and cannot be considered scientific practices.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Question Quest:

Learn to distinguish between questions that can be answered by science and questions that science cannot answer. This interactive tutorial will help you distinguish between science and other ways of knowing, including art, religion, and philosophy.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Perspectives Video: Experts

Birdsong Series: STEM Team Collaboration :

Researchers Frank Johnson, Richard Bertram, Wei Wu, and Rick Hyson explore the necessity of scientific and mathematical collaboration in modern neuroscience, as it relates to their NSF research on birdsong.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Chemistry and Art:

Harry Kroto, from Florida State University, discusses the interactions that can occur between Art and Chemistry.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

The Meaning of Science:

Harry Kroto, from Florida State University, discusses the Nature of Science and why science is important to society.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Expert

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Friction and Tires:

Racecar driver discusses use of data and comparing 2 sets of data after test runs. 

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Project

A Survey About Science:

Through a student administered survey, friends and family members share their perception of science and the scientific process. This information is then shared with classmates to create a picture of the community's knowledge about, and comfort level with, science. By the end of this lesson, students will have a better understanding of what science is and isn't after exploring and discussing the implications of scientific literacy.

Type: Project

Teaching Ideas

CERN:

This PBS/NOVA presentation tells the story of the CERN and the Large Hadron Collider project - an amazing ongoing investigation in search of an answer to the mysteries that still exist in particle physics. Recommended discussions and activities before and after the video are provided.

Type: Teaching Idea

CONPTT - SCIENCE vs NON-SCIENCE:

Explores six criteria of science (CONPTT), with definitions and self-check questions. Compares "Emerging Science", "Non-Science", and "Pseudoscience", with definitions and examples. Activity engages students in analyzing a collection of paragraphs to decide which category each fits into.

Type: Teaching Idea

Text Resources

The Invasive Squirrel That Wasn't:

This informational text resource is designed to support reading in the content area. This article describes the discovery of evidence that contradicts the notion that a specific species of squirrel was introduced to an Alaskan ecosystem. It further discusses the implication of the new evidence and challenges the current meaning of invasive species.

Type: Text Resource

Languages Are Still a Major Barrier to Global Science:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The article describes a Google Scholar survey, focusing on environmental issues, as the basis for presenting an argument that language is a barrier to global communication in the scientific community. The recognized barriers are two-fold: the limitation of knowledge transfer and the inability of local policy makers to make decisions based on existing knowledge. The article provides possible solutions to the problem, including the "multilingualization" of texts through changes in journal requirements.

Type: Text Resource

The Mystery of Human Blood Types:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Blood types such as the ABO group have been inherited for at least 20 million years. Despite how ancient blood groups are, scientists are still unclear as to their purpose. The ABO blood group, the most well-known of the blood groups, has enabled scientists to understand a link between blood groups and the immune system; discoveries over the last century suggest a link between blood groups and disease. Even with these findings, scientists are still unclear as to why such blood antigens evolved in the first place.

Type: Text Resource

Dirt Mounds Made by Termites in Africa, South America, Asia Could Prevent Spread of Deserts:

This informational text resource is designed to support reading in the content area. The article discusses the impact termite mounds are having on semi-arid ecosystems and the surprising realization that scientists have come to in regards to the effects of these termite mounds. The text also describes the importance of scientific modeling to predict plant growth while having termite mounds present.

Type: Text Resource

Research Spotlights a Previously Unknown Microbial 'Drama' Playing in the Southern Ocean:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The article discusses the relationship between phytoplankton and different bacteria in the Southern Ocean. The text goes on to describe the results and how they changed previous ideas and assumptions about the needs of phytoplankton.

Type: Text Resource

Exploring the Heart of Matter:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Under the direction of the Department of Energy, the Jefferson Laboratory is making strides in its development of a new high-speed particle accelerator. This accelerator promises to operate at double the maximum speed of existing accelerators, and it will reveal more details about the forces which bind subatomic particles inside an atom, as well as the very nature of those particles. These discoveries will help us refine our ideas about atoms and nuclei.

Type: Text Resource

Revealing the Ocean's Hidden Fertilizer:

This informational text resource is designed to support reading in the content area. The text explains how scientists are working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore the role of phosphorus, and specifically the phosphorus cycle, in marine ecosystems. The author explains what is known about the topic, what research was done, what conclusions were drawn, and the importance of the scientists' findings.

Type: Text Resource

Why Do We Yawn?:

This informational text resource is designed to support reading in the content area. The article seeks to answer the question, "Why do we yawn?" Scientists have yet to reach consensus about the function of yawning. Social and physiological claims about why we yawn are presented from Hippocrates, 17th and 18th century scientists, and scientists today.

Type: Text Resource

Zanzibar's Malaria Hunter:

This informational text resource is designed to support reading in the content area. The article is about a woman, Habiba, who uses a motorbike to travel to families in the villages of Zanzibar to track, test, and treat malaria patients. After receiving a text message about the location of a malaria patient, she travels to the patient and tests the patient's family to see if other family members have malaria. Then, she treats any infected family members with medicine, giving them extra medicine and insecticide-treated mosquito nets, while educating them about prevention of the disease and its transmission.

Type: Text Resource

Ammonium Dichromate:

This article explains the uses and properties of ammonium dichromate, an "explosive" compound once common in children's chemistry sets, and the reasons why society has gradually moved away from using this compound.

Type: Text Resource

What is Alchemy?:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. Alchemy is a pseudoscience dating back thousands of years. Though it contained scientific components, alchemy also involved untestable elements such as magic and mysticism, and it was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what scientists now know to be true about chemistry and physics. This article describes alchemy and explores its history and its failure to explain natural phenomena.

Type: Text Resource

Phrenology-History of a Science and Pseudoscience:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article discusses phrenology, which is a pseudoscience that claims to be able to use bumps on human skulls to make inferences about personality traits. The article details why phrenology is not a true science, and reviews the history of phrenology, the role of phrenology in the debate about the organization of the brain, how phrenology came under scientific criticism, and modern iterations of the technique.

Type: Text Resource

Debate Tests Accuracy of Tree Ring Data :

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The article explains the controversy surrounding the research of scientists Mann, Fuentes, and Rutherford, whose work suggests that tree rings may not be as accurate a record of past climate changes as once thought. The author explains how the reliance on one type or source of data is a limitation in science and discusses the other information available to reconstruct climates of the past.

Type: Text Resource

The Weird, Wild World of Citizen Science is Already Here:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article describes the collision course between citizens and scientists as "makers" and "hobbyists" begin aiding and supplementing the scientific community more and more. The article gives many examples of amateurs helping out on active projects, especially when science cannot dedicate the hours or money necessary to complete them.

Type: Text Resource

Evolution Made Ridiculous Flightless Birds Over and Over:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article focuses on the evolution of ratites—large, flightless birds like the ostrich—and how they evolved to become flightless birds. New research shows that ratites evolved from common flying ancestors and that the evolutionary process occurred over and over again.

Type: Text Resource

Antimatter:

This informational text is intended to support reading in the content area. The article describes the history of the study of antimatter in language that is easier to understand than most technical texts.

Type: Text Resource

Scientists Now Uncertain About Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This article reports on scientists' findings that refute an aspect of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. The article describes the principle and what the new results mean for its future.

Type: Text Resource

The Story of Serendipity:

The article explains how some famous scientific discoveries that happened "by accident" more accurately resulted from scientific habits of mind, which allowed researchers to take full advantage of these serendipitous moments.

Type: Text Resource

The Structure of DNA: Cooperation and Competition:

The insight, innovation, and persistence of James Watson, Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins led to a detailed understanding of the structure of DNA, the stuff that genes are made of. This discovery brought together information from many disciplines and many researchers to answer one of the most fundamental questions in life science: How do living things pass on traits to their offspring?

Type: Text Resource

Unit/Lesson Sequence

Modeling for Understanding Natural Selection:

This series of lessons introduces students to evolutionary reasoning and to the explanatory power of the Darwinian model of natural selection. Students read three evolutionary scientists' (Paley, Lamarck and Darwin) original work and compare their thinking, proposed mechanism of evolution, use of evidence, and explanatory power of their theory. They apply the three scientists thinking to another scenario to refine their understanding of the explanations.

Type: Unit/Lesson Sequence

Video/Audio/Animations

AIDS: Evolution of an Epidemic:

This Howard Hughes Medical Institute Holiday Lecture Series video includes 6, 60-minute lectures on the history of the AIDS epidemic. The talk covers AIDS/HIV history in the United States from the 1980's through 2007 (when the lecture was taped) and also some basics on the biology of HIV and AIDS, including transmission, viral replication and the human immune system. The video offers a useful perspective on an example of the evolution of scientific thinking and research, as researchers discuss the development of scientific theories about HIV/AIDS as well as treatments. Several related resources, such as animations and video clips, can be found on the main page.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Inquiry and Ocean Exploration:

Ocean explorer Robert Ballard gives a TED Talk relating to the mysteries of the ocean, and the importance of its continued exploration.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this topic.

Original Student Tutorials

Newton's Insight: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants:

Discover how Isaac Newton's background, talents, interests, and goals influenced his groundbreaking work in this interactive tutorial.

This is part 4 in a 4-part series. Click below to explore the other tutorials in the series.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Defining Science:

Learn how to define what science is and what it is not. In this interactive tutorial, you will identify why certain ways of exploring the universe can and cannot be considered scientific practices.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Question Quest:

Learn to distinguish between questions that can be answered by science and questions that science cannot answer. This interactive tutorial will help you distinguish between science and other ways of knowing, including art, religion, and philosophy.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Video/Audio/Animation

Inquiry and Ocean Exploration:

Ocean explorer Robert Ballard gives a TED Talk relating to the mysteries of the ocean, and the importance of its continued exploration.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this topic.