Nature of Science

Science is a powerful way that humans have to understand how their world “works.“ By powerful, we mean that science often provides explanations that are useful in understanding and predicting nature. We study science so that we can understand the natural world.

In this section, we will review the central facets of the nature of science. The nature of science refers to the characteristics or attributes of scientific knowledge—that is, what qualities make a piece of knowledge “scientific.” These characteristics are influenced by the way that knowledge is produced; the processes used to create scientific knowledge shape the knowledge that it produces. Nature of science refers to the characteristics of scientific knowledge and scientific inquiry refers to the process by which scientists create knowledge. The nature of science and scientific inquiry are closely related but are very different things. It is essential for teachers and students to have an understanding of both the nature of science and scientific inquiry, but just learning about one of these areas does not assure that one will understand the other area.


The scientific knowledge we gain through investigating and understanding the physical world has certain characteristics. Below is a summary of these characteristics and how they relate specifically to students’ learning science. This excerpt was taken from Chapter 2 in Teaching Science to Every Child by Settlage, J. and Southerland, S. A. This chapter, in its entirety, is made available in the media bar of each lesson or by clicking the title above. 


The video below, provided courtesy of Weber State University, does an excellent job of reviewing the tenets that underpin the Nature of Science (~8 min).

Nature of Science Video

To purchase this DVD ($20 includes shipping) for home or classroom use or to view in its entirety , please click here.

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