Physics 1

Chapter 1 - About Science

Terms & Objectives

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Note: The following terms and objectives are based on the Indiana Standards 2000 for Physics 1. You may download the complete physics standards by clicking here, or view the standards relevant to Chapter 1 - About Science here.

New Terms in Chapter 1:

This course is not about memorizing definitions of terms, but it is important that you understand the meaning of the terms that we will use in physics. (Scientific definitions are rather different from "standard" definitions, but for today you understand the meaning of a term when you can define it in your own words, give an example, and use it correctly in a discussion).

It is very important that you understand the scientific meaning of the term, because this scientific meaning is very precise, and is often very different than the commonly-used meaning. For example, the word "theory" causes much confusion because it is used to mean different things by scientists and non-scientists! There are many such words in physics - force, pressure, work, energy, momentum, etc. Be sure that in physics you know and use the scientific meaning of each term.

scientific method




anecdotal evidence











Click here for an interactive crossword puzzle to practice your scientific methods vocabulary.

Ch. 1 Objectives:

After completing this chapter, you should be able to:

(Note: Objectives tell you what you should be able to do after successfully completing the work in a chapter. You can use objectives as study tools and to help you review for tests. By the way, "explain," "discuss," "distinguish between," etc., means that you should be able to clearly and concisely provide the relevant information, including a diagram if appropriate, and give examples.

  1. ... recognize that physics is the most fundamental science, and explain why.
  2. ... discuss the characteristics of a scientific observation and how it differs from anecdotal evidence.
  3. ... tell what a scientific fact is, and explain why facts are not absolute and unchangeable, and give examples.
  4. ... explain what a hypothesis is, and distinguish between a hypothesis that is scientific and one that is not.
  5. ... tell what a conclusion is, and explain the relationship between observations, facts, and conclusions.
  6. ... tell what a theory (model) is, and explain the relationship between hypotheses and theories.
  7. ... tell what a law (principle) is, and explain the relationship between facts and laws.
  8. ... distinguish between a law and a theory.
  9. ... describe the circumstances under which a hypothesis, law, or theory must be changed or abandoned.
  10. ... explain why the process of refinement, or even abandonment, of scientific theories is a strength of science.
  11. ... distinguish between science and technology.
  12. ... discuss the role of mathematics in physics.

Possible Preconceptions to Correct:

After completing Chapter 1, you should be able to explain why each of the following statements is wrong.

(Note: In your everyday life, you make informal observations all the time and draw conclusions about the way things work. Unfortunately, many of these conclusions turn out to be wrong! The major difficulty in learning physics is "unlearning" these incorrect ideas, so that they may be replaced by the correct ones. Each of the statements below is WRONG! Recognizing that some of the things that you believe are not true is the first step in learning.)

BHS -> Mr. Stanbrough -> Physics -> About Science -> this page
last update May 28, 2008 by JL Stanbrough