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The Nature of Science
This document can be freely copied and amended if used for educational purposes. It must not be used for commercial gain. The author(s) and web source must be acknowledged whether used as it stands or whether adapted in any way.
Download 2.1 ‘Ideas and evidence’ Authored by Keith Ross University of Gloucestershire accessed from
www.ase.org.uk/sci-tutors date created February 2006
Currently this is covered by Sc1: Scientific Enquiry’ of the science national curriculum: Ideas and evidence and Investigative skills.
Here we deal with Ideas and evidence
1a. What are some of the 'big' ideas of science, and when did they become an accepted part of our understanding?
search for the truth
If you wrap a block of ice cream up in a blanket, will it melt faster, slower or at the same rate as the unwrapped one left in the same room at room temperature?
To hold what is
What is the
To slow the
rate of burning
What is the
To burn - it's
the actual fuel
1a. Big Ideas – compare your list with the topics in the National Curriculum. Scientists have created these ideas over the centuries, and they have been tested by experiment and observation
1b.What is science? Science starts by noticing things, this leads to the creation of ideas which have to be tested by further observation/experiment. By communicating the ideas they can be further tested and become accepted – until they become inadequate and need to be revised or replaced.
Many children (and adults) have the idea that blankets are intrinsically warm, so the ice-cream will melt faster if wrapped in a blanket.
This is the conjecture or guess.
It is an idea or theory which we then have to test against ‘reality’.
When the experiment is performed many are surprised that the wrapped ice-cream stays frozen longer then the unwrapped one.
It seems that the wax is retarding the flame - slowing the burning of the wick.
Fatter candles last longer.
Where does the extra energy come from in a fat candle – the wick is the same size?
What about ‘candles’ with ‘liquid’ wax – oil lamps – how do they work?
Children’s ideas can change during teaching, just like scientists’ ideas do over historical time.
We are all scientists!