The Nature Of



Why study the History and Nature of Science?

The National Science Education Standards use history to elaborate various aspects of scientific inquiry, the nature of science, and science in different historical and cultural perspectives. The standards on the history and nature of science are closely aligned with the nature of science and historical episodes described in the American Association for the Advancement of Science Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Teachers of science can incorporate other historical examples that may accommodate different interests, topics, disciplines, and cultures--as the intention of the standard is to develop an understanding of the human dimensions of science, the nature of scientific knowledge, and the enterprise of science in society--and not to develop a comprehensive understanding of history.

Little research has been reported on the use of history in teaching about the nature of science. But learning about the history of science might help students to improve their general understanding of science. Teachers should be sensitive to the students' lack of knowledge and perspective on time, duration, and succession when it comes to historical study. High school students may have difficulties understanding the views of historical figures. For example, students may think of historical figures as inferior because they did not understand what we do today. This "Whiggish perspective" seems to hold for some students with regard to scientists whose theories have been displaced.

from the National Science Education Standards


The Five Biggest Ideas in Science

This team presentation will elaborate on the Five Biggest Ideas in science from the required book for the course. The ideas are: Physics-Model of the Atom, Chemistry-Periodic Table, Astronomy- Big Bang Theory, Geology- Plate Tectonics Model and Biology- Theory of Evolution. Each team will select one of the 5 ideas and prepare a visual and written summary for the class.

Although the ideas seem to be simple and elementary in nature, the progression of scientific thought (and technological enhancement) should be the focus of your presentation. Utilize visual aids, multimedia, video, posters- anything to have the class visually progress through the history of ideas in these 5 topics. Your group will have 30 minutes to present. You may also have an activity and perhaps an assessment. You should prepare a one page handout summarizing (or outlining) your Big Idea.

Include also the reactions society had to the five ideas. Were they generally accepted? Did the ideas meet opposition? do they still meet opposition? Culturally, where did these ideas emanate from? Did their origin have anything to do with their acceptance? Is there any new information not included in this book?


Visual Presentation

8 points

Progression through scientific thought

3 points

Society component

1 point

Technology involvement

1 point

Written handout (summary)

2 points

15 points total

Timeline Books are very popular. There are even timeline posters and wall charts that may be used in the classroom.

The Wall Chart of Discovery and Invention: The growth of human knowledge from pre-history to space travel. Studio Editions, London (1991) (also in paperback form)

The Timeline Book of Science, written by George Ochoa and Melinda Corey,The Stonesong Press, New York, (1995)

(also available The Timeline Book of the Arts and soon the Timeline Book of Great Ideas and the Timeline Book of History)

The Timetables of Technology: A Chronology of the Most Important People and Events in the History of Technology, by Bunch, Bryan, Hellemans, Alexander, Simon and Schuster, NY (1993)

The Timetables of Science : A Chronology of the Most Important People and Events in the History of Science, by Alexander Hellemans, et al / Touchstone Books / March 1991

Asimov's Chronology of Science & Discovery , Isaac Asimov / Harpercollins / December 1994

Online Science Timelines:

Tracing the interactions of science and society enlightens students to the real world of science application. There are many online resources for scientific discoveries and timelines:


LIFE 100 Top events of the Millenium

TIME 100- The most important People of the 20th century

Science Timeline

Chemistry Timeline

Science, Science Education and Technology Timeline

The Century in Shoes

Strange Science Timeline

A Walk Through Time

Events in Science, Math and Technology

Nuclear Age Timeline

Chronology of Personal Computers

Timeline of Photography

Polymer Timeline, Energy Timeline

History of Science and Social Science Timeline

A History of the Internet

A Century of Physics

The Food Timeline

Science and Technology Timeline-Victorian

Timeline of the Universe

Great Feuds of Science

Powerpoint Presentation


History of Science Links

World of Scientific Biography

The Medieval Science Page

Case Studies in Science

4,000 years of Women in Science

African Americans in the Sciences-Biographies

History of Science Museum-Italy

Essays on Science and Society