Inquiry Strategies
for the Journey North Teacher

Exploring What Scientists Do

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A Scientist Is . . .
Invite students to focus on the nature of science by generating a list of qualities, actions, and attitudes of scientists. Begin with the stem: A scientist . . . (e.g., is curious, carefully observes). When appropriate, ask students to describe what each item "looks like" in action. For instance, if students mention that a scientist is a good observer, ask, What does a good observer do? (e.g., notices details, carefully draws what he or she sees); include their responses under that item.

Keep the chart visible in the classroom for reference. On a regular basis, revisit and add to the list as students interact with Journey North scientists and their research. The list below highlights some of the overarching scientific values/world views to keep in mind and share with students.

Thinking Like Scientists

  • Scientists are curious. They ask questions about the world and use their own and others' knowledge and experiences as starting points for investigations.

  • Scientists are collaborative. They share their ideas, research designs, conclusions, and explanations with others, and they work together to refine them.

  • Scientists systematically investigate their questions. They do this by observing over time, looking at measurable data, or setting up experiments.

  • Scientists carefully and accurately communicate details of investigations in a variety of ways.

  • Scientists are "healthy skeptics." They continually question their own and others' assumptions, data, investigation designs, and results.

  • Scientists base their explanations on evidence (and employ a bit of imagination, too!). They value honesty in collecting, analyzing, and presenting data.

  • Scientists are objective. They rely on precise observations and carefully gathered data. They cautiously avoid letting "subjective" feelings or opinions affect their conclusions.
  • Scientists realize that science is dynamic and tentative. They are open to new ideas and willing to revise or discard their explanations and theories when new reliable information is revealed.

Exploring What Scientists Do Links