Welcome! This page provides some perspectives regarding goals of science and technology and strategies that scientists and engineers may use for achieving their goals. It must be stressed, however, that the goals and strategies described here - like those in many other resources - are highly stereotypical. Actual goals and practices in science and technology are highly personal and contextual - dependent on myriad, often interacting and unpredictable, situational variables. It is, therefore, problematic to suggest that they ever can be accurately defined, described and modelled. Nevertheless, it has been my experience that keeping many of the goals and strategies below in mind can be helpful. Individuals can choose from amongst them — and others — in ways unique to who they are as inquirers and developers and according to the aforementioned situational variables affecting knowledge building in science and technology. If you have comments, questions, suggestions, resource ideas, etc. about anything here, please write to me about them. Thanks.
Sci. vs. Tech.
|There is some controversy regarding distinctions between goals and purposes of 'science' and 'technology.' Many people claim that 'science' is responsible for what others consider to be products of technology, such as various medications. People talk about 'medical science' giving rise to many 'wonder drugs,' for example. Underlying this idea, perhaps, is an assumption technology cannot develop products (such as medications) without products of science (e.g., conceptions of chemical structures). This is an issue regarding relationships between science and technology, about which some ideas and resources are provided through STSE Ed. The question remains, however, as to how to distinguish 'science' from 'technology.' Many people feel that they are quite different.|
with a 'scientific'
goal aim to document and explain existing
relationships that exist naturally.
Using the relationships modelled in figure 1, a
'scientific' goal regarding mushrooms, for
example, could be to explain (using
hypotheses at first) how
soil types (a 'cause variable') affect
mushroom weight gain (a 'result
Those with a 'technological'
goal, however, want to change
causes & effects in order to create desired
results. A 'technological'
mushrooms might be to create conditions ('cause
variables') that get
them to grow as big (or small, depending on how much
people like mushrooms) as possible (a 'result
||Figure 1: Cause-Result Relationships in S&T.|
however, that science and technology are quite
similar. At a very
general level, both fields aim to develop
that may be useful.
Particle Theory, which is a typical product of
science, can be useful
for making predictions about effects of air pressure
on balloon size,
for example. That is not unlike a pair of sunglasses
which is a typical product of
technology, which has its obvious uses. Related to
that, both fields
also perform various empirical tests (e.g.,
experiments) in order to
gain evidence for claims about their products. Indeed,
as suggested below,
many of the strategies scientists
and technologists employ are not that different.
controversy remains —
consequently, people have to judge for themselves
how science and
technology compare. This may or may not be a crucial
issue; but, it is
a subject of debate amongst many who study these
many people believe that goals and purposes of science
are similar. This also appears to be true for strategies that
engineers use to
achieve their goals — as
suggested by the model in figure 2 (below)
and in my downloadable glossary
and set of skills
objectives. Admittedly, this model is a stereotypical
representation of strategies that scientists and engineers
Their strategies tend not
to be, for instance, nearly so step-wise as the model in
figure 2 suggests. Also, the model in figure 2 is,
incomplete. Much of what scientists and engineers do is,
for example, tacit
therefore, something that cannot be included in a diagram
or set of
educational objectives. Related to this is the idea that
that each scientist or engineer chooses is highly personal
'idiosyncratic.' Scientists and engineers are not —
Strategies they choose may
depend, for example, on their psychological make-up,
genetically-determined or experientially-acquired
social and cultural pressures, etc. These sorts of
factors pertain the
nature of science and technology (NoST) and
sciences, technologies, societies and environments —
resources for which are provided threough: NoST
the idiosyncratic and contextual nature of knowledge
building, it also
must be noted that the framework in figure 2 is a product
particular idiosyncracies and environmental influences.
should, therefore, consider many other such
frameworks when planning and evaluating students'
Some of these are available at Curriculum.
model in figure 2 below, I suggest that it
is useful as a starting point for considering the nature
building in science & technology. It could be used,
for example, to stimulate discussions surrounding
scientists and engineers may sometimes use. From the top to
of the model, for example, actions (also called
and 'processes') on the 'Science' side (left) may be
similar to those
the 'Technology' (right) side. Questions
that 'scientists' ask, for example, are comparable to problems that
'Technologists' note — in that both may involve cause - result
typical cause-result 'science' question about mushrooms,
for example, would be:
'How do changes in soil type affect mushroom growth?'
typical 'technology'/'engineering' cause-result problem
would be, 'What can we do to soil to
prevent mushrooms from growing?' Similarly, predictions
'scientists' make are similar to solutions
'technologists' generate. A
for instance, predict that mushroom growth in
different soil types would vary according to the organic
soils. A 'technologist,' meanwhile, could predict that
amounts of a certain
chemical (e.g., a herbicide) should repress growth of
Empirical tests to which 'scientists' and 'engineers'
ideas often are quite similar, both employing
experiments and studies,
Figure 2: Stereotypical Model of Strategies Used in Science & Technology/Engineering.
|Although there may be these sorts of similarities between science & technology, it also must be acknowledged that there are significant differences between them, as well. For example, interactions with societies and environments may be more significant for 'technology' than for 'science' (assuming the two fields are unique and separate — which I happen to doubt). Along similar lines, ways in which fields of science & technology interact with each other also may vary. For further discussions and resources related to these issues, refer to NoST Ed and STSE Ed.|