In this project, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following course outcomes:
Determine fundamental approaches to scientific research in addressing questions related to the natural world
Develop questions about fundamental aspects of the natural world that inform personal assumptions, beliefs, and values using empirical evidence
Investigate questions about fundamental aspects of the natural world that inform personal assumptions, beliefs, and values using empirical evidence
Articulate the value of the natural sciences for their impact on contemporary issues
This course will introduce you to fundamental ideas in the natural sciences and how scientists study phenomena in the natural world. Having a well-rounded understanding of scientific research is much more than just an academic pursuit. We encounter natural science every day. Consider news headlines about vaccine development, debate about climate change, privatizing space exploration, how bees affect our environment, and whether intestinal health impacts mental health. Think about the conversations you’ve had with friends and family about weather, gardening, cancer, or black holes. These are all natural science topics!
Being scientifically literate helps you to better understand the world, solve problems, and make informed judgments. It also allows you to evaluate the credibility of claims you hear in the news or from members of your community. A society that understands how science works thinks critically about information, is empowered to make better decisions, and is less likely to be misled by those who distort evidence to promote their own agenda.
In this project, you will use a recent news article to identify a natural science topic that you are curious about. You will explore how research is conducted about the topic, scientific developments that have affected it, and its societal significance. This will provide you with a deeper understanding of scientific research and the fundamental aspects of the natural world.
Complete this project by addressing the criteria below. You will complete parts of the project in each module and receive instructor feedback. Your final submission will be revisions of the work you do throughout the course. Be sure to incorporate instructor feedback from each assignment along the way. Read these guidelines and rubric criteria closely, and reach out to your instructor if you have any questions.
Part 1: Natural Science Topic Exploration
In this section, you will explore a natural science topic by selecting and analyzing a current news story. You will also reflect on your existing knowledge about the topic. Then, you will identify how research on the topic was conducted as described in the news story.
Describe the main idea discussed in your chosen news story.
In other words, what is the key concept or thesis being examined in the news story?
Explain your prior and desired knowledge regarding the main idea in your news story.
What do you already know about the topic? Do you have personal experience with the topic? What else would you like to know about it?
Identify a scientific approach that the scientist(s) used to research the topic.
Consider the way the topic was studied or how evidence was collected. Consult your article for this information. You do not need to conduct outside research.
Part 2: Fundamental Questions About the Natural World
In this section, you will identify questions you want to answer about your topic. Your finalized question will directly influence the hypothesis you write. Finally, you will consider how your opinions and experiences affected the focus of your hypothesis.
Finalize your research question related to the main idea in the news story you selected.
Your finalized question will be based on the questions you began working with earlier in the course.
Propose a hypothesis based on your finalized research question.
Make sure your hypothesis is directly related to your finalized research question and is both testable and falsifiable.
Explain how your personal beliefs, assumptions, and values influenced how you approached writing your hypothesis.
Think about your preexisting opinions and knowledge about the topic. How might they have affected the focus of your hypothesis?
Part 3: Major Developments in the Natural Sciences
In this section, you will research a significant advancement, discovery, or event that has affected how scientists research your topic. You will also explore the interrelationship between science and ethics.
Describe one major development in the natural sciences that has impacted how your topic was or may be studied.
In other words, what advancements or events have changed how scientists research your topic?
Describe the contributions of a scientist (or group of scientists) who was involved in the major development relevant to your topic.
You might consider the scientist’s motivations to study the topic, the challenges they encountered, or how their research changed how we think about the topic.
Discuss how an ethical issue might impact research on your topic.
Some examples of ethical issues in science include bias in research, the impact of politics on science, research funding sources, objectivity in science, or the spread of scientific misinformation.
Part 4: The Value of Studying the Natural Sciences
In this section, you will reflect on the benefit of having a deeper understanding of the natural sciences to you personally and to society as a whole.
Explain how viewing the world through a scientific lens may influence your personal life.
In other words, how might applying scientific inquiry skills to your daily experiences help you better understand them or take action?
Articulate how being a more scientifically informed citizen may affect your relationship with your community.
Think about challenges or opportunities in your community. How might being more scientifically literate benefit your community?
Discuss how being a more scientifically informed citizen may help you understand global contemporary issues.
Consider how being scientifically literate could influence how you approach current challenges or questions in the world, even outside the sciences.