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Discussion: The Scientific Approach
Why is the sky blue? Why do bees sting? Why is the ocean salty? These are questions a young child may ask about the world based on his or her observations and experiences. As children grow older, their inquisitive nature may begin to fade. Anyone involved in the scientific process, however, must continually make observations and ask questions about his or her observations. In addition, scientists suggest possible answers to their questions and then test their ideas to determine if they are correct. This process is known as the scientific method.
The scientific method, however, does not answer every question about the universe. For example, it cannot answer questions such as “Is there a god?” or “What is the true meaning of life?” As you begin your exploration of biology this week, you consider the nature of science and how the scientific approach to the world differs from others, such as philosophical or spiritual approaches. Then, you apply this understanding by identifying a situation in which you can apply the scientific method and a situation in which you cannot.
To prepare for this Discussion:
Consider the question posed by the Chapter 1 title of Biology: Science for Life: “Can Science Cure the Common Cold?” Think of a few additional questions science could answer. How do you think science might find answers to these questions?
Review Chapter 1, “Can Science Cure the Common Cold?” in Biology: Science for Life, and consider how the scientific method tests ideas and attempts to find answers to questions. For example,
What is a hypothesis?
How does an experiment test a hypothesis?
Why is the experimental process essential to science?
Review the articles in this week’s Required Resources.
In the article “The Nature of Science,” note the characteristics of scientific inquiry—that is, how scientists study phenomena to arrive at evidence-based conclusions.
Pay special attention to the Reality Check activity in the article “How Can We Tell Science from Non-Science?” Consider what distinguishes the scientific statements from the non-scientific ones.
Read the Discussion Spark topic/question or comment posted by your Instructor in the Discussion Thread on Day 1.
With these thoughts in mind:
By Day 2
Post a 1- to 2-paragraph response to the Discussion Spark.
Important Note: The Discussion Spark and the weekly Discussion topic below will be graded together. You will see one score in your My Grades area.
Respond to this SPARK prompt in the thread by day 2:
Where would you go to search for scientific facts? How can you be sure the facts are based on science?
By Day 4
Post two or more paragraphs that distinguish the nature of science from non-science and that explain how the scientific method can be used to answer a question or solve a problem.
Your post should include the following:
Three characteristics of a scientific approach to the world
A real-life example of how the scientific method was or could be applied to solve a problem or answer a question
A real-life scenario that cannot be tested scientifically
References to at least two sources outside the Required Resources
All references cited in APA format
Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.


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