What are Science Senses?
In general, science sense is…
Being able to distinguish science from non-science
The ability to recognize how people collect and process facts into knowledge
The ability to recognize how a collection of facts becomes knowledge
Being able to question and evaluate information that is presented as scientific
Being an informed consumer, evaluator, and practitioner of science
More specifically, the skills that help to develop Science Sense fall into three broad categories: Number Sense, Data Sense, and Knowledge Sense. The video and breakdown of the categories below feature just a sample of the kinds of skills that fall into each category. For a one page overview document and skills list, download the PDF using the button below.
This video introduces the common thread that runs through the Science Forward course: Science Sense.
Science Sense is a set of skills that scientists and scientific thinkers possess that allows them to question and evaluate information presented as scientific.
These skills include interpreting graphs, making evidence based on arguments, designing experiments, and more.
The video below explains the three categories of Science Sense – Number Sense, Data Sense, and Knowledge Sense – and gives examples of each.
Breaking it down...
Scales and orders of magnitude
Estimates and approximations
Measurements and units of measurement
Making a back-of-the-envelope estimate
Graphical interpretation and visualization
Sample size, relevance and statistical analysis
Identifying and correcting for bias
Collecting data and recognizing patterns
The nature and limits of science and scientific questions
Scientific ethics and applying science
Having an open mind
Activities & Lesson Plans
Have students work in groups to try to list as many skills in each of the categories as they can before showing them the list or the syllabus. What skills do they already know scientists possess? Which don’t they think of? Are these skills useful anywhere else?
PS – Do you have ideas for activities that teach an understanding of the science senses? Feel free to add them below in the comments section 🙂
Prescod-Weinstein. 2017. Scientists Must Challenge What Makes Studies Scientific. American Scientist. Link.
White and Dennin. 2008. Chapter 3: The Nature of Science, from Science Appreciation: Introduction to Science Literacy. (Access this OER here.)
Zimmer. 2020. How you should read coronavirus studies, or any science paper. New York Times. Published June 1, 2020. Link.
Have an idea for how to use this video in class? Want to give us feedback? Let us know!