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How science changes


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  • 1. How Science Changes Leslie Prohaska Florida State University SCE5943 Field Lab Internship Dr. Alejandro Gallard October 19, 2009
  • 2. The story of Pangea
    • Remember how the theory of plate tectonics developed
    • Alfred Wegener proposed his idea of continental drift in his 1915 book, The Origin of Continents and Oceans
    • His evidence included fossils of the same lizard and same plant being found on the eastern side of South America and western side of Africa
    • This was not enough though…
  • 3. More evidence needed
    • When technology improved after World War II, scientists were able to map the floor of the ocean
    • Magnetic stripes were found on the sea floor which proved that the sea floor was spreading
    • The theory of plate tectonics was finally accepted in the 1960’s because of this evidence
  • 4. This is how science works
    • Scientists continue to experiment, to make observations, take data, and collect evidence
    • As technology improves, there are new ways to experiment and to make these observations
    • If this new information does not fit with the old explanations or, then scientists will make new theories to explain their findings
    • Yes, scientists can change their minds!
  • 5. Science is about improving our understanding
    • The history of science reveals both evolutionary and revolutionary changes. With new evidence and interpretation, old ideas are replaced or supplemented by newer ones. (NSTA Board of Directors, 2000)
    • Progress in science consists of the development of better explanations for the causes of natural phenomena. (Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science, 1998, p.42)
    • Explanations that we discuss today may continue to change.
  • 6. Other examples… of the nature of science… that we have Discussed before
  • 7. The Atomic Theory
      • Democritus, ‘atomos’
      • Dalton, 1808, all matter is made of atoms
      • JJ Thomson, 1897, plum pudding model
      • Rutherford, 1909, gold foil experiment, most of the atom is open, empty space
      • Bohr, 1913, orbits and energy levels
      • Modern atomic model, wave mechanics model, 1926
  • 8. The Cell Theory
    • Robert Hooke, 1665, first saw cells in microscope and thought they looked like little rooms he called cells
    • Matthias Schleiden –1837, all plants are composed of cells
    • Theodore Schwann – 1839, all animals are composed of cells
    • Modern Cell Theory – 1858, 1) cells are the basic unit of life, 2) all organisms are composed of one or more cells, 3) all cells arise from preexisting cells
  • 9. History of classification
      • Aristotle – 350 B.C. 2 large groups, plants and animals
      • Carolus Linnaeus – 1753, kept two kingdoms but broke them into smaller groups and had everyone use Latin
      • Five kingdom system, 1959, Animal, Plant, Fungi, Protists, Moneran, Whittaker
      • Six kingdom system proposed/Three domains???? Still not resolved
  • 10. Things continue to change
    • As scientific knowledge evolves, major disagreements are eventually resolved… (National Science Education Standards, 1996, p. 171)
    • This is part of scientific inquiry
  • 11. References
    • American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1990). Chapter 1: The Nature of Science. Retrieved October 17, 2009, from
    • National Science Education Standards observe, interact, change, learn. (1996). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
    • NSTA Board of Directors. (2000, July). Nature of Science Position Statement - NSTA Position Statements. Retrieved October 17, 2009, from
    • Teaching about evolution and the nature of science . (1998). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.