Scientific Theory and Scientific Law

Report
Scientific Theory and Scientific
Law
WHY DO WE NEED BOTH?
LESSON 1
Instructions for use of Scientific Theory and
Scientific Law Activity
Objective: The main goal of this activity is to clarify to students that science terms often have different meanings than their
meanings in general conversation. In science, a theory is NOT a stop on the way to becoming a law. This is a very
common misconception outside the scientific community.
Time needed : 50 minute period
Procedure: This activity will work well when teaching the scientific method in any science course. After introducing the
steps of the scientific method (or reacquainting as the case may be), pass out the blank Venn diagram on Scientific
Theory and Scientific Law.
1) Review the premise of a Venn diagram, explaining that statements that only apply to a Scientific Theory should be listed
in the far left circle, statements that only apply to a Scientific Law should be listed in the far right circle, and statements
that are true for both Scientific Theories and Scientific Laws should be listed in the center area on the diagram. For a
younger group of students, it would be helpful to tell students that each statement will be used only once and that there
are 5 statements that will be common to both Scientific Theories and Scientific Laws.
2) Have students take their sheet with them to the computer lab and let them “Google” resources to help them complete
their diagram. It should only take students 10-15 minutes to find information they need to complete the diagram.
3) When back in the classroom, allow students 5 minutes to share with their “neighbors” why they put statements where
they did and allow them to make changes if they become convinced by their peer’s arguments.
4) Teach the difference between these two terms using the attached PPT file then pass out a blank diagram for them to
complete while you model the correct diagram for them (on the board, overhead…)
Assessment: For homework, have students write a complete paragraph comparing and contrasting a Scientific Theory and
Scientific Law.
Scientific Theory and Scientific Law
Explains how
nature works
Describes what
nature does
under certain
conditions
(usually with a
mathematical
formula)
Biology has
more of these
Scientific
Theory
Both
Theory
and Law
Chemistry and
Physics have
more of these
Scientific
Law
Tested
hypothesis
Supported by
large amount of
data
Helps unify a
field of study
Widely accepted
by a vast
majority (if not
all) scientists
within a
discipline
Can be modified if
even 1 peerreviewed
experiment
produces data
showing
disagreement
Scientific Theory and Scientific Law
(Answer Key)
Scientific
Theory
Both
Theory
and Law
Scientific
Law
1) Tested hypothesis
1) Biology has more of
these
2) Supported by large
amount of data
3) Helps unify a field of
study
2) Explains how nature
works
4) Can be modified if even 1
peer-reviewed experiment
produces data showing
disagreement
5) Widely accepted by a vast
majority (if not all) scientists
within a discipline
1) Chemistry and Physics
have more of these
2) Describes what nature
does under certain
conditions (usually with
a mathematical formula)
Scientific Theory and Scientific Law
Scientific
Theory
Both
Theory
and Law
Scientific
Law
Scientific Theory and Scientific
Law
WHY DO WE NEED BOTH?
Scientific Method
 Organized and careful
method that scientists use
figure things out about
nature
 Experiment process never
really ends
 The conclusion (whether it
ends in a description of
how or a statement of
what) can be changed when
further experimentation
shows changes should be
made
Scientific Theory and Scientific Law
 The field of biology has
more scientific theories
that result from research.
 The fields of chemistry
and physics have more
scientific laws that result
from research.
Scientific Theory and Scientific Law
 Scientific Theory usually
describes a phenomenon
seen in nature.
 Scientific Law usually
explains how a process
works under a given set
of conditions with a
mathematical formula.
BOTH are proven
true through
continuous
experimentation!
Question:
Mass can come from energy
and energy from mass (E= mc2)
The speed of light in a vacuum is
constant and an absolute physical
boundary for motion
 Is this a scientific
 Is this a scientific
theory or a scientific
law?
 Scientific LAW
theory or a scientific
law?
 Part of the THEORY of
relativity
Question:
Is a scientific theory or a scientific law more correct?
 Trick question! Both
are equally proven to
be true through
continuous
experimentation.

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