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Lesson 1: Why and how do people do science?


This lesson consists of six short (2-3 minute) interview videos about how and why scientists do research and can be used to introduce students to the Smoking Behavior research project . If you do this lesson in conjunction with the Exploring Databases unit, have students spend 5 minutes brainstorming about why people would study smoking behavior. How can it help society to have a better understanding of smoking behavior and addiction?

Class Time: 40-50 minutes

Learning Objectives Evidence
Understand the many ways of doing scientific research in addition to traditional experimental research designs Through writing and discussion, students cite evidence from the videos that shows that science can include observational and experimental research
Understand that scientists have many compelling reasons for doing their research Through writing and discussion, students recognize reasons scientists do research, such as:

  • Interest in understanding how the natural world works
  • Interest in learning to help people from diverse backgrounds



Section A. Discussing the Invitation Letter

1. Introduce the curriculum by reading the Invitation Letter to the students. It may be helpful to provide an overview of the curriculum using the Basic Flow of Inquiry to the students to understand the research process.

2. Have students spend 5 minutes brainstorming about why people would study smoking behavior. How can it help society to have a better understanding of smoking behavior and addiction?

Homework: To prepare for lesson 2, ask students to complete Blank_RPP1 in the Research Project Pages (RPP).

Section B. Viewing scientist interview clips

1. Before viewing the interview video clips conduct a classroom discussion on your student’s understanding of science.

Discussion questions:

i. Can you describe what science is?

ii. What does a scientist do?

iii. Can you think of jobs and everyday activities that require you to use what you know from science?

iv. Do you know anyone who uses science in their job? Who is that person? What do they do?

You may want to have the students quickly draw their understanding of science or a scientist, to use as a way to start the discussion.


2. Tell students that they will be watching several short video clips to learn about  the different ways that scientists conduct research. Give students Blank_Student Sheet 1.1.

As a class, read the questions on the student sheet so students know what to record as they view the videos. Then  show the interview clips through the video links below or in the sidebar to the right. As they watch the videos, the students should take notes and complete Student Sheet 1.1, sharing their ideas as a class.

Jeff Stanaway (clip 1) , epidemiologist, is the most relevant interview to the curriculum.


Description of Each Clip (with link to clip)–  Theresa Madrid, Graduate Student, Public Health Genetics, University of WA. Theresa talks about the personal connections she has with her work and how she envisions her work will impact her community.




Joel Grow, Graduate Student, Clinical Psychology, University of WA. Joel discusses how he made the transition from software engineering to clinical psychology through his teaching experiences, interests, and conversations with professors. He also talks about the interdisciplinary nature of psychology.




Josh Akey, Associate Professor of Genome Sciences, University of WA. Josh describes his recent work on understanding the genetic differences between dog breeds. He discusses how databases are integral to his work and how they are used in genome sciences today.




Lisa Beutler*, Graduate Student, Genome Sciences, University of WA. Lisa describes how the science she undertakes is different than high school and undergraduate science. She also talks about how she studies addiction in mouse models.




Tracie Delgado, Graduate Student, Microbiology, University of WA. Tracie talks about how collaboration and mentoring play a role in her lab and the challenges she faces in her work.




Jeff Stanaway, Graduate Student, Epidemiology, University of WA. Jeff describes how he decided to pursue a career in epidemiology and how collaboration is essential to work in the field.





Homework: Give students the complete Research Project Pages packet, which is included in the downloadable complete curriculum. To prepare for lesson 2, ask students to complete Blank_RPP1 in the Research Project Pages (RPP).

Ethical Consideration:The interview clips with LB* include her speaking about her research on mice and doing injections into their brains. You may want to be prepared to discuss the standards and practices of research on animals.NWABR has a resource on animal research that you can consult if this comes up in your classroom:


One comment

  1. Welcome to Lesson 1! Please provide feedback on how you used it in your classroom and its usefulness in that context. If you have questions about implementing the lesson, please post them here.

    Comment by Maureen Munn on August 3, 2012 at 8:56 pm

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