What Is Science?

Science is not a collection of dead knowledge inscribed in a dusty textbook. It is not as much about memorized facts (though having a solid foundation of knowledge does help) so much as it as a way of thinking.

If you were to look at how “expert” scientists are trained—the procedure of earning a doctorate degree—you would find that classwork makes up a very small part of the process. Most of the education is done in the lab, where students learn to create an observationally-based understanding of how a particular system works. They learn to solve problems and think critically about what they—and other scientists—have done.

In other words, learning to be a “real” scientist involves much more than heaps of memorization; it involves the mastery of skills. And the amazing thing is that these skills aren‘t just good in the laboratory: they‘re also incredibly helpful in everyday life.

Articles

  • Not Everyone Is A Scientist (But I Want That To Change)

    It has been suggested that everyone is a scientist. After all, humans are curious and they act on that curiosity. That should count, right?

    Actually, not. See, science isn't just about wondering why and trying to find answers. It's not just about trying new things. It's about trying to find answers in a specific, systematic way.

    Read More

  • The Key to Scientific Literacy

    As a scientist, I've heard a lot of complaining that students aren‘t coming to college prepared for science classes. Why can‘t we, as a nation, encourage scientific literacy? people whine.

    Read More

  • What are the Science Skills?

    To be honest, I’m not sure anyone could ever make a comprehensive list. However, the skills I list below (and talk about in more detail in my book) are fundamental to thinking and operating like a scientist; furthermore, all of them can be mastered by anyone, not just those with a scientific bent.

    Here is my list: Read More

FAQs

  • Your book only covers grades K-8. Will you ever talk about how to homeschool science in high school?

    Yes, though writing has been going incredibly slowly the last few years—I've had to write a dissertation, several scientific articles, and a heap of job applications (among other things). I hear that the first two years of teaching are the hardest, so hopefully when I get past the end of the 2016-2017 school year I will finally be able to finish my magnum opus. This is not an extension of my old book (which will be retired once I finish the current project) but a complete rehash. My old ideas are still valid, but the processes of undergoing a "scientific apprenticeship" (completing a Ph.D.) and training researchers in my own lab have given me a lot more ideas, and I think you'll be pleased with the final outcome.

  • My child wants to learn chemistry. Do you have any resources I can use?

    Many, but what I recommend depends on the age of your child.

    My experience is that most kids can start learning chemistry ideas long before most people think they are ready, and another long-running project of mine involves developing lessons in chemistry for early-elementary aged children. (Besides being incredibly busy, another of the reasons I have trouble finishing any projects is that I usually have a couple dozen works-in-progress at any given time.) Other projects I am working on include a self-study multimedia chemistry course for high schoolers and self-study lessons that teach science skills.

    Keep in mind that I work full-time, while also homeschooling my youngest (currently in 9th grade), so "free time" is limited at best. But I am committed to getting good, quality science education materials out; these will be cheaper (ebook format in addition to print format) and/or more easily accessible (like the chemistry step-by-step problem-solving videos that I'm developing for my college students, which will eventually also cover the basics and therefore be useful to homeschoolers as well.)

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