Elaboration of the Relationship for
Science for All Americans

In this course, the emphasis is on problem solving with an accompanying review of basic and necessary scientific content and terminology. An attempt is made at the beginning to have the students recognize some of the difficulties that arise in defining a problem. Simple concrete examples are used to demonstrate different strategies for solving problems.

The systems approach and its concepts such as input and output, information, feedback, and control are used heavily to support the process of scientific thinking. The concept of a model and modeling is central, as is simulation. Scientific content is introduced in terms of the illustrative examples used, and fundamental scientific models of matter, energy, life, and systems are developed in class and reinforced in outside readings. Required reading in newspapers, magazines, and scientific publications familiarizes students with these topics and encourages them to read more of these articles.

In the laboratory, students learn to gather large amounts of data, organize them, and present them in tabular and graphical form. This "hands-on" experience helps them develop an appreciation of the role of experimentation in science. Students form and test elementary hypotheses, then present and discuss their conclusions. Laboratory exercises emphasize scientific measuring skills, graphing, reasoning, and critical thinking. Students are required to submit word processed laboratory reports each week, which reinforces material learned in English and computer literacy courses.

The primary objectives of the laboratory experiences are to develop problem solving and quantitative reasoning skills, skill in making measurements, the understanding and appreciation for modeling, the ability to use the computer as a tool, and the ability to integrate value judgments into technological decisions and applications.

Practically every one of the laboratory activities can be related to chapters 1, 2, 9, and 12 in Science for All Americans (SFAA). Laboratory activities involve the methods of scientific inquiry (SFAA chapter 1), mathematical analysis (SFAA chapters 2, 9, and 12), and habits of mind (SFAA chapter 12). Throughout the course, the scientific content is held secondary to the process.