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Dimension 1: Practices
Developing and using models
A practice of both science and engineering is to use and construct models as helpful tools for representing ideas and explanations. These tools include diagrams, drawings, physical replicas, mathematical representations, analogies, and computer simulations.
The Scientific Process involves using models and simulations to explain physical phenomena. Models can be used to hypothesize and predict outcomes, which can then be tested in the real world. By constructing such models, we are able to learn more about unseen worlds and the relationship between the observable and unobservable factors that shape them. In 2012, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine introduced the Framework for K-12 Science Education as a suggested approach for furthering science education understanding on these subjects.
Engineers use models and simulations as a tool to analyze existing systems for any potential, or latent, flaws. They also employ these models to test proposed solutions and consider the advantages, downfalls and limitations of each design. In 2012, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas which provided detailed guidance on the application of this technique.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) recognize and emphasize the importance of three main dimensions for learning science. These dimensions are essential components in forming each standard—or performance expectation. When taken together, they allow students a chance to gain a more cohesive understanding of science concepts as they progress through their courses.
Three Dimensions of Science Learning
It is important to understand how scientists work in order to make sense of the world around us. The scientific process is a methodical and logical approach to discovering how things in the universe work. It is the foundation upon which all scientific knowledge is built.
The scientific process begins with a question or problem that scientists want to solve. They then gather data and observations about the problem. This data is used to form a hypothesis, which is a proposed explanation for the problem. The hypothesis is then tested through experimentation. If the results of the experiment support the hypothesis, then it becomes a theory. If the results of the experiment do not support the hypothesis, then the hypothesis is rejected and a new hypothesis is formed. This process is repeated until a theory is supported by a large body of evidence.
The scientific process is not always linear. Scientists may go backand revise their understanding due to new evidence or data. The process generally starts with making an observation or asking a question, followed by formulating a hypothesis, conducting experiments and tests to collect data, analyzing the data, and then either accepting or rejecting the hypothesis. If the hypothesis is accepted, scientists create a conclusion. This conclusion is then put out for peer review or further discussion before it is accepted as scientific fact.