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Dimension 1: Practices

Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Scientists and engineers must be able to communicate clearly and persuasively the ideas and methods they generate. Critiquing and communicating ideas individually and in groups is a critical professional activity

In order for science to progress, scientists must effectively communicate their findings as well as become aware of the discoveries of others. As part of this process, scientific ideas and results are shared verbally, through text, graphic elements such as tables and diagrams, and through discourse with peers. Additionally, scientists must be proficient in comprehending and deriving meaning from scientific documents including academic papers, online resources, symposia proceedings, and lectures. It is essential for them to be able to assess the veracity of available information before integrating it into their body of knowledge.



In engineering, it's essential to be able to effectively communicate the advantages of a design. This involves communicating with peers both orally and in written form—with visuals such as tables, graphs, illustrations, or models. Effective communication also entails being able to comprehend and utilize the texts of your colleagues. Now more than ever before, new technologies provide additional ways for engineers to collaborate and convey their ideas.

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.

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