Science Practice 3: The student can engage in scientific questioning to extend thinking or to guide investigations within the context of the AP course.
As scientists and students, how do we know what we know? Facts, concepts and theories fill biology textbooks, but how did scientists discover facts, concepts and theories that make up modern science, such as that cells produce carbon dioxide as a by-product of respiration or that the details for copying the two strands of DNA differ during replication? What historical experiments provided evidence that DNA, not protein, was the hereditary material for living organisms? What scientific evidence supports evolution by natural selection, and how is this different than alternative ideas with respect to evolution and origin of life? To provide deeper understanding of the concepts, the student must be able to answer,
“How do we know what we know?” with, “This is why we know what
we know.” The student is able to pose, refine and evaluate scientific questions about natural phenomena and investigate answers through experimentation, research, and information gathering and discussion.
For example, if the student poses the question: “What happens to photosynthesis at very high, nonbiological temperatures?” he or she can address this question in a variety of means: literature searches, fact finding and/or designing an experiment to investigate the effect of temperature on chloroplast function, including collecting data, making predictions, drawing conclusions and refining the original question or approaches. The student is able to formulate good scientific questions — ones that
are amenable to experimental approaches and addressable through evidence — and can distinguish them from other questions that are ethical, social or teleological in nature. The student can pose and rationally discuss questions that address ethical and civic issues that surround the development and application of scientific knowledge, and controversial issues such as stem cells, cloning, genetically modified organisms, and who should decide what types of biological research are acceptable and which are not.
- 3.1 The student can pose scientific questions.
- 3.2 The student can refine scientific questions.
- 3.3 The student can evaluate scientific questions.