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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Apologia General Science, Module 2, Scientific Inquiry

What we did at Sahm-I-Am

Students, Practice these frequently:
• Quizlet M2

D&T Activity (my kids loved this)
D&T Activity worksheet
Scientific Method in Action
See these and more at Debbie's Educator's Resources.  (Thanks, Debbie!)

(1) p. 35-39, What Science is NOT
A couple of experiments in your book demonstrate that objects do fall at the same rate.
If there is air resistance this interferes and slows down certain objects, but doesn't change the fact that lighter objects with no air resistance do fall at the same rate as heavy objects.
One thing that is not mentioned in this module is that objects will fall at an accelerating rate (getting faster).  This continues until the object(s) reach a point that the downward pull of gravity is equal to the upward push of air resistance.  Objects with more air resistance will fall slower than other objects.

The Feather and the Coin (in a vacuum -- no air)

Hammer vs. Feather - Apollo 15 on the moon!

From experiment 2.1 in your book, it may seem as if one could prove that heavy objects fall faster than lighter objects.  But experiment 2.2 was a counter-example to show that the first experiment was faulty.  The results of the first experiment were incorrect.
Hmmm... this tells us that experiments can be "fixed" to get desired results.  This is something to keep in mind!
One of my husband's professors in Bible college said that people are more likely to believe the view of someone that they like, often not even checking things out for themselves.  But they also might not even consider something another person says.
This is prejudging!
This is like what we read about in Module 1.  Scientists were either believed or not believed based on past achievements, not current facts.  There is some merit, of course, when a scientist is known for his accomplishments.  And if we hear of something we've never heard before, we should be open-minded but be examining the evidence ourselves.
Proverbs 18:13
"He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him."

We look at Module 1 and wonder how can people have believed such things, and not even listened to other scientists who had counter-examples to disprove previous theories.  Writings were banned from being read; scientists put into prison, and wrong things were being taught for years without even considering something different!
Well.... the same thing is being done today!
Evolution is being taught as a fact, and Christianity is not even considered.
►Read this article New Definition of Science?

Further in your module, you will read that sometimes correct results do not happen as quickly as they did in Experiments 2.1 and 2.2.  One such hypothesis was worked on for several years then became a theory that was tested repeatedly and believed for 25 years!  This was finally disproved with a counter-example in 1986, which isn't that long ago.  It may seem long ago to you, but actually it was probably around 10 years or so before you were born.

I couldn't find any scientific videos about counter-examples, but I did find an episode of Cyberchase that deals with a counter example, haha!
If your parent allows, you can watch Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.


(2) p. 40-44, The Scientific Method
What is a Hypothesis?

The Scientific Method

►Scientific Method flow chart

Part 1

Part 2

Exp. 2.3, The Broken Flashlight.
In this experiment, you were to only change one thing at a time.  This is important!

My daughter's computer monitor had been staying pink!
We didn't know if it was the actual computer hard drive, or if it was the monitor.
Our hypothesis was that it was the monitor.  So our experiment to test our hypothesis was that we switched it with an old monitor that we had, and then she did not have a pink screen anymore. 
Yay!  We verified our hypothesis.  
But... then something happened. A counter-example.
My daughter didn't like that huge monitor because it took up so much space on her desk, so we switched again, and gave her mine (it had been having problems too), and I used hers.  (total 3 monitors, not to get you confused or anything!)  =)
This time we only switched our monitors, and not cords, (because the old monitor needed its exact cord).  I had her monitor with my cord, and the screen was not pink.  She got my monitor with her cord, and she had a pink screen.
So our first hypothesis was wrong.  It was not the monitors.  
We had changed 2 things without actually realizing it.  We changed the monitors and the cords.  
The pink screen was gone the first time around, so we had solved the problem, but we did not have the correct explanation.
To correctly do science, you must explain, not just fix.
We did some more experimenting just to be sure, and we finally determined that it was the cord. 
And that is our theory.  =)

In my last post, I told a bit about Ignaz Semmelweis, the Hungarian doctor who proposed that doctors wash their hands before going into the maternity ward.

Semmelweis, Pasteur, and Lister


(3) p. 45-48, Failures of the Scientific Method
In the late 1800's, Italian scientist Giovanni Schiaparelli observed several faint lines crisscrossing on Mars.  He published these observations, then American scientist Percival Lowell hypothesized that the lines were canals dug by the inhabitants of Mars, and eventually it became a theory.  Other scientists agreed and Lowell's theory was on its way to becoming a scientific law!
Of course, as more powerful telescopes were made, all this was discovered to be untrue.
However in 1952, there was a film made called Red Planet Mars.  Here is an excerpt.

Lowell did the right thing in following the scientific method, but sometimes we don't get the results expected.  Sometimes after a LOT of hard work, hypotheses and theories can be disproved!  The scientific method is the proper way to go, but remember, if you are doing true experiments, you don't know what the results will eventually be!
Even modern scientists make mistakes.  That is why things must continually be tested and corrected if need be.

In 1911, Dutch scientist Heike Onnes discovered the phenomenon of superconductivity.  He found that certain substances at extremely cold temperatures (about -450°F) did not resist the flow of electricity at all.
It's like no friction to slow things down.
At the time no one could explain how superconductivity worked.
Scientists have since discovered other ways to use superconductivity, not only through wires, but with magnets.  It's the super cold temperatures that allow this.
Here are some modern examples so you'll have an idea of frictionless superconductivity.
(A bit loud at the beginning.)

Bardeen, Cooper, and Schieffer - the BCS theory
In the 1950's, these scientists began to work on a hypothesis to explain superconductivity.  By 1960, it was considered a scientific theory.  Many tests were performed and confirmed for the next 25 years, and the BCS theory became accepted as a scientific law.

However, one aspect of the BCS theory was that superconductivity was impossible at any warmer temperature than -405ºF.
But in 1986, two scientists, J. George Bednorz and Karl Alex Muller found an example of superconductivity at a warmer temperature!
Turn your speakers up. This isn't very loud.

Since then, warmer and warmer temperatures have been found that allow superconductivity.  I say warmer, but they are still extremely cold!  =)
More examples of what is being done with superconductivity.

All this is to show that while something may have become a scientific law, a counter-example may show otherwise!  So scientists should ever be experimenting, always trying to better their results, discover more, etc.


(4) p. 49-50a, The Limitations of Science
According to p. 49, science
(a) cannot prove anything
(b) is not 100% reliable, and
(c) must conform to the scientific method.
You may be surprised to hear that science cannot prove anything!

I also found this statement in Science Magazine.  (bottom of 2nd page, middle column)
" doesn’t “prove” theories.  Scientific  measurements can only disprove theories or be consistent with them. Any theory that is consistent with measurements could be disproved by a future measurement."


(5) p. 50-55, Science and Christianity
I was pretty sure I would find no videos to go along with this section of your science book.  =)
This section looks at the Bible to see if there is any evidence that supports or contradicts that the Bible is true.  It gives several prophecies that have been fulfilled.   One prophecy mentioned in your text came from Ezekiel 26 and another from Zechariah 11:12-13.
One thing I got from reading this section was that just because many people say it doesn't automatically mean it is true.  Evolution is widely believed, but as a Christian, I believe God created the earth, and that He didn't need evolution to help Him do it.
But just because Christianity is also widely believed doesn't automatically mean it is true, either.
How do we know what is true?  Do we use science to prove it?  We already learned that science cannot prove anything.  There is a lot of evidence of an Intelligent Creator.  If we believe that some wristwatch parts cannot fall together and make a watch, how then could we believe that something so complicated as the human body, animals, the ecosystem, or the solar system could just fall into place with no designer?
Evolution claims we evolved over millions of years.  Why then, did it stop?  We aren't perfect yet, after all!
God created the world only once.  He doesn't need to create another one.  He gave it to us and told us to replenish the earth and subdue it.  It is up to us how we live in it.
So what about science?
I love the reply given with the answer to the On Your Own question 1.10.  Jay Wile writes,
"You should never use science as the basis for your world-view because the conclusions of science are always tentative.  Your worldview affects everything in your life.  You should never base something that important on something as tentative as science!"
If a person is not a Christian, he has no idea what it is like to pray to the Lord and have prayers answered; to feel peace in your heart after a loved one's death, knowing you will see them again in heaven.

I John 5:11-13
11.  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13.  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit that the Lord gave us.  If we are in a close relationship with the Lord, we will "hear" when the Holy Spirit guides us in everyday decisions.  It isn't magic.  To be in a close relationship with someone, you talk and listen to them daily, and often.  It's the same with God.  If we don't read our Bible and pray and listen to Him, we will feel far from Him.
An unsaved person doesn't have the ability to know or feel the things we do.  He feels that what Christians believe is foolish.  He actually isn't able to understand what we know.  Christians have the Holy Spirit of God to help us understand (discern) the Bible, and even without "proof," we know it is true.

I Corinthians 2:14
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:  neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."


  1. Thank you Marty, for your time and enthusiasm to prepare this page for those of us that are coming along years later and learning from you.

  2. You're welcome, Marion! It started off as something for my own kids, then just grew! =) =)


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