Understanding the Language of Science

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Winner, A Choice Outstanding Academic Book, 2004 From astronomy to zoology, the practice of science proceeds from scientific ways of thinking. These patterns of thought, such as defining and classifying, hypothesizing and experimenting, form the building blocks of all scientific endeavor. Understanding how they work is therefore an essential foundation for everyone involved in scientific study or teaching, from elementary school students to classroom teachers and professional scientists. In this book, Steven Darian examines the language of science in order to analyze the patterns of thinking that underlie scientific endeavor. He draws examples from university science textbooks in a variety of disciplines, since these offer a common, even canonical, language for scientific expression. Darian identifies and focuses in depth on nine patterns-defining, classifying, using figurative language, determining cause and effect, hypothesizing, experimenting, visualizing, quantifying, and comparing-and shows how they interact in practice. He also traces how these thought modes developed historically from Pythagoras through Newton.