What is Science?

What is science?

What is Science?  How does it work? What questions does it ask and answer? How should we approach scientific information? This video starts from the basics.

How to Use this Video

How is science defined, and what are some of the misconceptions about it? What makes it different from other ways of looking at the world? From thought experiments to skepticism to confirmation bias, scientists discuss what we are doing when we do science.

Have thoughts about the video? What resources or activities have you used to teach this topic in your class? We’d love to know – share your voice by sending us a message below 🙂


Science Senses Featured in this Video

Knowledge sense

The nature of science

Making progress in science

Recognizing bias

Being reasonably skeptical

Reporting scientific findings through peer review

Activities & Lesson Plans

Have students define science: first alone, then paired, then in groups. Start with one group definition on the board, then have other groups take turns editing it. (KS – the nature of science.)

Assign students the task of finding things that claim to be scientific from the internet (or bring in some yourself). These can be news reports, blogs, advertisements, etc. Have them decide what makes these items suspect. This activity can go in many directions. You can discuss what it means to be reasonably skeptical, what pseudoscience is, what good scientific reporting looks like, the difference between communicating science to scientists versus the public, or how to look for the actual scientific basis for the claims in online databases of peer reviewed literature. (KS – Distinguishing between science and pseudoscience, being reasonably skeptical, communicating science, making progress in science.)



Kimmerer. 2013. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Milkweed Editions.

Oreskes. 2016. Should we trust science? Tanner Lecture on Human Values. Link to video.*

Oreskes. 2016. When science goes awry. Tanner Lecture on Human Values. Link to video.*

Oreskes. 2019. Why Trust Science? Princeton University Press. *The two videos linked above are the first two chapters of this book, which features additional essays and responses. 

Prescod-Weinstein. 2017. Scientists Must Challenge What Makes Studies Scientific. American Scientist. Link.

White and Dennin. 2008. Chapter 1: Introduction to Scientific Literacy from Scientific 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.

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