Limitations Of Science Essay Elementary

International Baccalaureate

The Middle Years Programme - MYP



MYP sciences aspires to develop scientifically informed, caring and responsible individuals who can think critically and make informed choices about themselves, the environment and society.



The aims of the teaching and study of sciences are to encourage and enable students to:


  • develop inquiring minds and curiosity about science and the natural world

  • acquire knowledge, conceptual understanding and skills to solve problems and make informed decisions in scientific and other contexts

  • develop skills of scientific inquiry to design and carry out scientific investigations and evaluate scientific evidence to draw conclusions

  • communicate scientific ideas, arguments and practical experiences accurately in a variety of ways

  • think analytically, critically and creatively to solve problems, judge arguments and make decisions in scientific and other contexts

  • appreciate the benefits and limitations of science and its application in technological developments

  • understand the international nature of science and the interdependence of science, technology and society, including the benefits, limitations and implications imposed by social, economic, political, environmental, cultural and ethical factors

  • demonstrate attitudes and develop values of honesty and respect for themselves, others, and their shared environment.


The objectives of sciences listed below are final objectives and they describe what students should be able to do by the end of the course. These objectives have a direct correspondence with the final assessment criteria, A–F (see “Sciences assessment criteria”).

A One world

This objective refers to enabling students to understand the interdependence between science and society. Students should be aware of the global dimension of science, as a universal activity with consequences for our lives and subject to social, economic, political, environmental, cultural and ethical factors.


At the end of the course, and within local and global contexts, students should be able to:

  • describe and discuss ways in which science is applied and used to solve local and global problems

  • describe and evaluate the benefits and limitations of science and scientific applications as well as their effect on life and society

  • discuss how science and technology are interdependent and assist each other in the development of knowledge and technological applications

  • discuss how science and its applications interact with social, economic, political, environmental, cultural and ethical factors.


B Communication in science

This objective refers to enabling students to develop their communication skills in science. Students should be able to understand scientific information, such as data, ideas, arguments and investigations, and communicate it using appropriate scientific language in a variety of communication modes and formats as appropriate.

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • communicate scientific information using a range of scientific language

  • communicate scientific information using appropriate modes of communication

  • present scientific information in a variety of formats, acknowledging sources as appropriate

  • demonstrate honesty when handling data and information, acknowledging sources as appropriate

  • use where appropriate a range of information and communication technology applications to access, process and communicate scientific information.

C Knowledge and understanding of science

This objective refers to enabling students to understand the main ideas and concepts of science and to apply them to solve problems in familiar and unfamiliar situations. Students are expected to develop critical and reflective thinking and judge the credibility of scientific information when this is presented to them.

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • recognize and recall scientific information

  • explain and apply scientific information to solve problems in familiar and unfamiliar situations

  • analyse scientific information by identifying components, relationships and patterns, both in experimental data and ideas

  • discuss and evaluate scientific information from different sources (Internet, newspaper articles, television, scientific texts and publications) and assess its credibility.

D Scientific inquiry

This objective refers to enabling students to develop scientific inquiry skills to design and carry out scientific investigations.

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • define the problem or research question to be tested by a scientific investigation

  • formulate a hypothesis and explain it using logical scientific reasoning

  • design scientific investigations that include variables and controls, material/equipment needed, a method to be followed, data to be collected and suggestions for its analysis

  • evaluate the method, commenting on its reliability and/or validity

  • suggest improvements to the method.

E Processing data

This objective refers to enabling students to record, organize and process data. Students should be able to collect and transform data by numerical calculations into diagrammatic form. Students should be able to analyse and interpret data and explain appropriate conclusions.

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • collect and record data using appropriate units of measurement

  • organize and transform data into numerical and diagrammatic forms, including mathematical calculations and visual representation (tables, graphs and charts)

  • present data in a variety of ways using appropriate communication modes and conventions (units of measurement)

  • analyse and interpret data by identifying trends, patterns and relationships

  • draw conclusions supported by scientific explanations and a reasoned interpretation of the analysis of the data.

F Attitudes in science

This objective goes beyond science and refers to encouraging attitudes and dispositions that will contribute to students’ development as caring and responsible individuals and members of society.

This objective is set in the context of the science class but will pervade other subjects and life outside school. It includes notions of safety and responsibility when working in science as well as respect for and collaboration with others and their shared environment.

During the course, students should:

  • carry out scientific investigations using materials and techniques safely and skillfully

  • work effectively as members of a team, collaborating, acknowledging and supporting others as well as ensuring a safe working environment

  • show respect for themselves and others, and deal responsibly with the living and non-living environment.

Over the last five centuries, consistent application of the scientific method has enabled immeasurable advances in technology and medicine. Experiments typically begin with asking questions, formulating hypotheses, planning investigations and making observations. Scientific research continues through interpreting and analyzing data, building models and sharing results.2 Throughout these steps run the common threads of the peer review process (subject to the scrutiny of peers most knowledgeable with the topic in question), and repeatability (results can be duplicated by independent researchers).3 These two factors are key to how “science works, by achieving consensus,” a consensus that is based not on opinion and conjecture, but on documented fact and proven theory.4

Science identifies physical relationships and principles that explain the world around us. Often, these principles can be extrapolated far beyond the conditions in which they were observed. This ability to extrapolate lends science a unique and powerful predictive power. For example, after the planet Uranus was discovered by Herschel in 1781, astronomer Le Verrier used Newton’s Law of Gravity to deduce the existence of another planet perturbing its orbit. Based on mathematical analyses, he was able to predict exactly where this new planet, Neptune, would be discovered.5 As ecologist Hugh Gauch states in a book on the scientific method, science builds on “deductive and inductive logic” to make “bold claims of rationality and truth.”6

In the area of climate change, the scientific method can document how climate is changing. Science can test all of the hypotheses that could explain the observed change and identify the one that is most consistent with the data: humans are responsible. Physical principles regarding the infrared absorption by heat-trapping gases and the exchange of heat between the atmosphere and ocean form the basis of complex earth system models. These models are what we use to understand the implications of the choices our society makes: What will the future look like if we continue to depend on fossil fuels for energy, compared with a future where we transition to other, cleaner energy sources?

What science cannot do, however, is tell us which choice is the right one. As the American Association for the Advancement of Science states, “There are many matters that cannot usefully be examined in a scientific way.”7 This concept is amplified by the K–12 science standards, which say that, “Science and technology may raise ethical issues for which science, by itself, does not provide answers and solutions.”8 The limitations of science were expressed even more vividly by Erwin Schrödinger, the Nobel prize-winning Austrian physicist, when he said,“[Science] puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart … it knows nothing of beautiful or ugly, good or bad, God and eternity.”9

To answer the difficult questions (How should we respond to climate change? Is genetic engineering acceptable? Why are we here? Is there hope for the future?), we need to look beyond facts, data and observations. To paraphrase the author of Hebrews, science is the evidence of things seen; faith, on the other hand, is the “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, King James Version). Our ultimate significance in life, the inner sense of the infinite that we possess, our final purpose and destiny: These are topics on which science is silent, but our faith is loud. As N.T. Wright points out in his lecture “Can a Scientist Believe the Resurrection?” neither historical evidence alone, nor scientific evidence alone, will convince someone to become a believer.10 We have to be open to ways of knowing suitable to the new creation: hope, faith and love. Our knowing is based on the hope of a new life, faith in the risen Christ and experiencing the Father’s love for us. Wright concludes, “All knowing is a gift from God, historical and scientific knowing no less than that of faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.”11 That love is what leads us toward the answers to our deepest and most difficult questions.

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