Concepts of scientific methodology to review
The following are sample essay questions on methods of science we have covered, with some suggestions on how to tackle the topic. These are suggestions only; you might come up with something equally good. Just be sure to ground your claims in concrete examples drawn from the material we covered.
At least one question on the exam will be drawn from this list.
- We started with this question, and now you have some more experience to bring to bear on it: what is science?
- What are the requirements for doing science?
- Is it necessary to have tools like writing and metallurgy, or is curiosity and thinking enough?
- Is it possible for an individual to "do science" or can scientific activities only be done in communities?
- Consider the methods we can use to observe natural phenomena and analyze information: experimentation, surveys, historical data review. Describe at least two different methods of data gathering. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
- What is the experimental method? Its limitations might include ethical and practical considerations (i.e., could we or should we generate a tornado to see what happens?)
- What are field observations? What is the problem with not having good controls for comparison? Is it possible to observe "in the field" without disturbing the thing you are observing?
- How can historical surveys of data be useful in determining patterns of phenomena? What are the limitations if we don't have good representative data for a period or a geographical area?
- What is classification and why is it useful?
- What are the challenges in getting people to agree on a set of criteria for classification?
- Why do our criteria change (e.g, we used to use structural forms to classify animals; now we use similarities in DNA)?
- What implications do these challenges have for identifying a group of objects or phenomena, such as a) objects in space and b) life forms on earth?
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