Natural Sciences Materials, Handouts, Activities

 

 

You can use any or all of the resources linked below with attribution when appropriate

You can download all of the resources linked below from my Natural Sciences Dropbox folder here.

Quotes on Sciences

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” Richard Feynman

“I conclude that, while it is true that science cannot decide questions of values, that is because they cannot be intellectually decided at all, and lie outside the realm of truth and falsehood. Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.” -Bertrand Russell

“In a way science is a key to the gates of heaven, and the same key opens the gates of hell, and we do not have any instructions as to which is which gate. Shall we throw away the key and never have a way to enter the gates of heaven? Or shall we struggle with the problem of which is the best way to use the key?” -Richard Feynman

 

Web Resources on Natural Sciences

Here is a collection of web resources I have collected connected to Natural Sciences as an Area of Knowledge.

Introducing Natural Sciences: What is science?

These are some good websites to have students explore some of the fundamental aspects of natural sciences or even to review some basic concepts as a teacher.

https://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/intro_01

https://www.visionlearning.com/en/library/Process-of-Science/49

Here is a great video to help introduce students to some basic ideas about terminology in the natural sciences.

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Here are a few more readings that explore the nature, definitions, and scope of science.

Download Is Science Faith Based?

Article about the nature of scientific proof along with a response from other scientists about scientific proof and certainty.

Download Debate Does Science Prove Anything

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Paradigms Natural Sciences and Scientific Progress

This video does a nice job introducing the concept of paradigms in the natural sciences. This concept, forwarded by Thomas Kuhn, tried to explain how scientific progress happens.

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I have students read this brief article after watching the video to help complete the story about paradigms.

Download Thomas Kuhn Reading

Another follow up activity I have them consider is to evaluate this image about information and knowledge. It is a good representation of the definitions of the terms but how the lines connect could also represent the concept of a paradigm.

I have my students watch the video about scientific theories that turned out wrong and ask them to speculate why they may have been wrong. I then have them read the article about Galileo and the theories about Mercury’s orbit to help them understand the nature of scientific progress through technological development but also through paradigm shifts.

Download Paradigm shift Galileo

Download Mercury Orbit

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Medical Studies

After establishing how the scientific method is a wonderful way of producing knowledge, I want kids to reflect on why scientists can sometimes be wrong. The ideas discussed above about incorrect paradigms helps explain part of it. We can also identify poor scientific processes and a lack of scientific consensus. The video below helps summarize many important issues.

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The Inquiry: Is the knowledge factory broken?

Here is a podcast that delves into many of the same issues.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csvsy8

 

Medical Reversals

This there have been many medical reversals on advice about human diet (salt, fat, sugar…). These cases raise a lot of good questions about the nature of scientific knowledge and its production. It also raises good questions about how scientific process can lead to conclusions that ultimately prove to be false.

Here is one article about dietary fat. This connects well to the concept of paradigms and the consequences of building simplified models that don’t match reality.

Download Looks Like The Medical Establishment Was Wrong About Fat

Here are a bunch of articles on related dietary topics.

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How should you think about new medical studies?

I start with this video and worksheet to have kids consider how to interpret a variety of scientific results about the impacts of certain foods on causing cancer.

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Download Medical Study Worksheet

And the accompanying article. There’s a lot here and worth taking two days with.

Download This is why you shouldn’t believe that new medical study

Medical Knowledge Quiz

This is adapted from a longer quiz evaluating whether people can make informed health choices. It is a good starter for introducing ideas related to health science.

Download Medical Claims Quiz

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Evolution and Creationism

This reading also overlaps with Religious Knowledge Systems This was adapted from a larger reading discussing the nature of scientific knowledge and how it contrasts with a religious approach to knowledge. Though it doesn’t necessarily cast creationism in a positive light, it does a good job laying out some fundamentally different approaches to knowledge.

Download Evolution and Creationism

Here you can read about the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham about Evolution

https://toktopics.com/2015/02/11/evolution-vs-creationism-debate-bill-nye-v-ken-ham/

I also like to have kids watch this video after reading the article about creationism above to ask them how they would respond to the arguments presented.

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Pseudoscience

Acupuncture

Evaluating the effectiveness of acupuncture helps students understand the nature of proving efficacy in the natural sciences. It also demonstrates some philosophical differences in how acupuncturists view the human body.

Overview of Acupuncture

This helps explain some of the central ideas of acupuncture

Cardinal Points of Acupuncture copy

Here are some more web resources tagged “Pseudoscience”

Vaccination

Here is a compelling article about the scientific study that gave birth to the modern anti vaccination movement.

Download Reading Vaccines

Other resources related to vaccination

Science and Ethics: Genetic Engineering

Another topic that gets a lot of interest from students is the intersection of science and ethics. Here are a bunch of web resources I have tagged for genetic engineering.

GMOs

Web resources focused on Genetically modified organisms

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Other Useful Resources

This video is really great and gets at the core values of science and undermines some misconceptions of the orderliness and tidiness of science.

This video discusses some of the limitations of science as well but in a different way.