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Your Science Tool-Kit: Evaluating Scientific Messages

By Samantha Burns at

On any given day we are presented with any number of scientific messages;  it is important to understand science, so that we might better understand the natural world around us.  But what do we do if the information makes no sense to us?  What should you do if the message gets garbled by the news-reporter and sounds alien?  How do we know the information we are receiving is accurate, and not skewed to suit a corporation with a private agenda?
We use our scientific tools to question and research the information.
Ask yourself:

  1. Where does the information come from?
  2. Are the views of the scientific community portrayed accurately?
  3. Is the scientific community’s confidence in the ideas accurately portrayed?
  4. Is it a controversy misrepresented or blown out of proportion?
  5. Where can you get more information?
  6. How strong is the evidence.

With these tools you can decipher the messages, discern truth from exaggeration, and gain a better insight to the world around you.  This will aid you in every day decisions you make.  From the minor to the most monumental life-changing decisions you make, I guarantee that a better understanding of science and the world around you is only going to benefit you and yours.
Use the following checklist to determine how scientific something is.

How Scientific Is It?

  • Focuses on the natural world.
  • Aims to explain the natural world.
  • Uses testable ideas.
  • Relies on evidence.
  • Involves the scientific community
  • Leads to on-going research.
  • Benefits from Scientific “Behavior”.

Science is not just a subject to play around with in our school endeavors; it is part of our every day lives.  It is crucially important that we give our children the skills and tools necessary to decipher the scientific messages bombarding them on any given day.  In a world where the natural state of things is in such a precarious place, and a society that is increasingly reliant upon technology, science will surely play a key role.

Samantha Burns is a self-taught homeschool teacher to 2 sons, and wife 10 years to a citizen scientist. You can visit her website at