Science and Education

MEANING OF SCIENCE

Sunday Adeniran

Science is universally regarded as the organized study of natural phenomena. To a scientist science is an intellectual through which men seek to understand nature. To a teacher, science is an organized body of knowledge inform of concept, laws and theories. Science has the ability to satisfy the educational domains.

Science could also be defined as an accumulated body of knowledge, a method of investigating natural phenomena and a way of thinking in an attempt to understand the universe.

Critical analysis of the above definition of science shows that science has two facets: inductive and deductive science.

Inductive Science

This view science as a critical and analytical activity in which concrete evidence proceeds a scientific generalization. According to this theory, science begins with observation. Facts obtained through observation often lead to generalization inform of laws, theories hypotheses e.t.c

Deductive Science

This body views scientific enterprise as a speculative human activity which thrives best in an atmosphere of freedom of thought, creative imagination and intuition. Through scientific generalization astronomer could predict when an eclipse will occur.

Deductive and Inductive Science

A careful look at science shows that science is both deductive and inductive. Science is deductive in the sense that science consists mainly of formulating and testing of ideas in nature. Science is inductive in that very often we are not certain about the result we will get, our conclusions are always tentative and often open to debate.

How Scientist Works

In order to accumulate and analyze observation, some science processes are used like classifying measuring, interpreting data, communication, experimenting, inferring, interpreting, extrapolating etc. some of these processes are explained thus.

(a)  Classifying: Classifying is the grouping of phenomena according to established rules. Through observation of events and situation, classifications are made e.g classifying objects into living and non-living things, classifying solution into electrolyte and non-electrolyte e.t.c. Can you give more examples?

(b)  Measuring: Measuring properties of objects and event can be accomplished by direct comparison or by indirect comparison with arbitrary units. The International System (S.I.) of unit of measuring length is metre, mass is kilogram, and time is seconds.

(c)  Communicating: Implies that message is passed across. In order to communicate, observations of accurate records must be kept which can be submitted for checking, and rechecking by other scientists. Science communication may be in the form or oral, symbol, equation and graphical representation.

(d) Experimenting: An experiment is a test of hypothesis under controlled conditions. Experimenting is one of the distinctive processes of science. It enables a scientist to put his questions about nature to test and receive or recover answers. The answers lead him to new problems whose solutions require complex experiments, improved techniques and better analysis of results.

(e)   Formulating Models: Models, whether physical or mental, are devised on the basic of acceptable hypothesis or hypotheses that are yet to be tested. Models are used to describe and explain the interrelationships of ideas.

(f)  Interpreting Data: Interpreting data requires the application of other basic process skills. In particular, the provisions of inferring, predicting, classifying communicating and interpretation of data leads to scientific generalization like laws, theories, principles and hypotheses. Interpretations are always subjects to revision in the light of new or more refined data.

 (g) Observing: Observation of event or situation is the most important science process skill. It involves the usage of all or some senses organs in an attempt to obtain information about the natural world.

(h)  Interpolating: This involves estimating intermediate values between known points. An example is that, knowing the extreme values may lead you to knowing the intermediate values. Predict the missing values between 9 and 21, and between 21 and 33 the given data (1,5,9,21,33).  Sciences often engage in interpolating process whenever they plot graphs.

(i)    Extrapolating: It involves estimating values beyond the range of available data. Predict the four missing values in this data; 3,5,7,9,11,13, – – – -.  Scientists always extrapolate data obtained in an attempt to make generalization.

(j)   Deduction:  Deduction entails testing the validity of hypothesis. It is the summary of the major findings in science process. The relationships between pressure and volumes of a given mass of gas at constant temperature leads to a deduction i.e “the pressure of a given mass of gas at constant temperature is inversely proportional to the volume”.