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The Scientific World View (grade 9-12) -

By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that:
  • Scientists assume that the universe is a vast single system in which the basic rules are the same everywhere. The rules may range from very simple to extremely complex, but scientists operate on the belief that the rules can be discovered by careful, systematic study.
  • From time to time, major shifts occur in the scientific view of how the world works. More often, however, the changes that take place in the body of scientific knowledge are small modifications of prior knowledge. Change and continuity are persistent features of science.
  • No matter how well one theory fits observations, a new theory might fit them just as well or better, or might fit a wider range of observations. In science, the testing, revising, and occasional discarding of theories, new and old, never ends. This ongoing process leads to an increasingly better understanding of how things work in the world but not to absolute truth. Evidence for the value of this approach is given by the improving ability of scientists to offer reliable explanations and make accurate predictions.

Scientific Inquiry (grades 9-12) -

  • Investigations are conducted for different reasons, including to explore new phenomena, to check on previous results, to test how well a theory predicts, and to compare different theories.
  • Hypotheses are widely used in science for choosing what data to pay attention to and what additional data to seek, and for guiding the interpretation of the data (both new and previously available).
  • Sometimes, scientists can control conditions in order to obtain evidence. When that is not possible for practical or ethical reasons, they try to observe as wide a range of natural occurrences as possible to be able to discern patterns.
  • There are different traditions in science about what is investigated and how, but they all have in common certain basic beliefs about the value of evidence, logic, and good arguments. And there is agreement that progress in all fields of science depends on intelligence, hard work, imagination, and even chance.
  • Scientists in any one research group tend to see things alike, so even groups of scientists may have trouble being entirely objective about their methods and findings. For that reason, scientific teams are expected to seek out the possible sources of bias in the design of their investigations and in their data analysis. Checking each other's results and explanations helps, but that is no guarantee against bias.
  • In the short run, new ideas that do not mesh well with mainstream ideas in science often encounter vigorous criticism. In the long run, theories are judged by how they fit with other theories, the range of observations they explain, how well they explain observations, and how effective they are in predicting new findings.
  • New ideas in science are limited by the context in which they are conceived; are often rejected by the scientific establishment; sometimes spring from unexpected findings; and usually grow slowly, through contributions from many investigators.
From Benchmarks and Standards as Tools for Science Education Reform

For a listing of the specific grade 9-12 astronomy standards we are working towards in this workshop, please check the National Science Education Standards - Earth and Space Science Content

Other standards listings include:


Visits since 10/99. Last Updated on December 15, 2001
Karen. Meech, Institute for Astronomy, UH
meech@ifa.hawaii.edu