Conceiving Facts, Laws, and Theories of Science

Dr. Adam Johnston
Department of Physics
Weber State University

Science is lots of things, ranging from an attitude to a process to a way of understanding. Yet, ultimately it aims to produce real knowledge. This knowledge has a range of structures that help us organize both what we know and how we know it, as well as giving us a sense of purpose for science. At the same time, humans (students and scientists, children and adults) organize their own knowledge in different ways. The semantics of a scientific “fact” or “theory” may seem like simple verbiage, but it might also have large implications for how we present and conceive of scientific knowledge. This presentation tries to make sense of the way that scientific knowledge is organized, how we learn about this knowledge, and how all of this is being used in reforms in science education around the country.