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Action Research     12

Another myth surrounding the nature of science that students often believe, according to McComas (1998), is that experiments are the principal route to scientific knowledge.  While experiments provide a wonderful means for exploring science, observation and qualitative methods have similarly led to great advancements in science.  One only need examine the works of astronomers or the likes of Darwin and Copernicus as evidence.  The sheer volume of variables in the field makes it a difficult place for the laboratory to duplicate.   Without this experience of an uncontrolled environment, science students cannot gain a true taste of observation, creativity, and reasoning. science.  As noted by Feynman (1995), these are three crucial pieces make up the quintessence of the scientific method.   The field is the only place for students to truly experience and utilize the nature of science.

Project Based Learning

In their online Project Based Learning Handbook, The Buck Institute of Education defines Project Based Learning (PBL) as “a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks” (2007).  This type of learning overlaps with inquiry and authentic assessments and can be augmented by including work in the field or technology.  When coupled with effective educational technology, PBL has been suggested to be an optimal method for teaching and learning science process skills and content (Bednarz, 2000).

PBL can also integrate other important aspects of the nature of science.  According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1990), “Scientific work involves many individuals doing many different kinds of work and goes on to some degree in all nations of the

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