Earth Science: Geology, the Environment, and the Universe
The Nature of Science
Pure and Applied Science
Thousands of research scientists at universities all over the world study science
and mathematics every day. Many of these scientists do not work on the real-world
applications that may be born of their discoveries. This research might be motivated
by curiosity. Scientists who seek to gain knowledge for the sake of knowledge
itself are doing pure science. Scientists who take known scientific facts and
apply them to the real world and technologies are doing applied science. This
research seeks to solve a problem.
You have learned about scientific methods in your science course. In this WebQuest,
you will examine how scientists have studied a certain aspect of science. Then,
you will explore how the knowledge that was gained has been applied. In some
cases, you might find that engineering or scientific solutions that were already
in use have been explained after they were designed or built. In other cases,
you might find examples in which new technology has led scientists to research
on levels that they were not able to attain before. In some cases, scientific
discovery has been driven by a need or a problem. For example, the space program
funds research and development into many high-tech inventions. In other cases,
scientists have studied the properties of matter or of a theory for knowledge's
own sake, and have stumbled upon a revolutionary discovery that has helped the
What examples of pure and applied science can you think of that you have studied
at school or encountered in real life? Brainstorm two or three examples of each
type. Do you know of any space or military technology that has been passed down
into everyday life? In this WebQuest, you will explore these ideas and more.
Your job in this WebQuest is to choose an area of science that interests you
or pertains to your course. You will investigate an example of pure scientific
research that has been done in this area. Then you will investigate how technology
and applied science interacted, or are still interacting, with the pure science.
You will present your findings in a time line format with an explanatory essay.
You may choose to break up the explanatory paragraphs along the time line, or
to present the time line and put the essay after it. Be creative with the structure
of the timeline to show interconnections between the development of knowledge
and the development of technology, as they do not always happen in a regularly
A few of the sciences that you might choose to research are listed below. There
are many others.
Use these questions to guide you. You may answer all or some of these questions,
and come up with your own questions to answer about your particular science
as you research.
- Was the pure science developed to explain observations and technologies?
- Did new technology develop from discoveries of pure science?
- How did technology assist with the pure science in this case?
- What careers are available in the pure science?
- What careers are available in the applied science?
- How does current study of the science interact with society? For example,
have any significant political events or community concerns influenced funding
or restrictions on the science?
- How is study of the science driven by concern for the environment? Does
it receive special funding because it helps the environment?
- Was this science/technology driven forward by past wartime needs or military
- Was this science/technology driven forward by space science?
- Was this science/technology driven forward by commercial wants?
- Was this science/technology driven forward by health and medicine?
You may wish to trace the development of a particular invention, such as an
infrared spectrometer, GPS technology, X-ray machines, radar, sonar, or heart
medications. Once you have traced the development of the pure and applied science
which ultimately led to this invention, explore what technologies and inventions
and science have developed due to the greater understanding given to science
by the device itself.
Research the questions and issues discussed above.
Prepare a time line that shows events of the past and present, and plans for
the future. Your timeline may take the form of a bulletin board display, a web
page, an essay, a PowerPoint presentation, or a poster. For each event on your
time line, include explanations, photos, diagrams, interesting facts, or other
Description of Science
Introduction to the Scientific Method
The Scientific Method
The Invention Hall of Fame
The Power of Science
You will have two to four weeks to find information on this topic and produce
their timelines. Your teach may allocate some bulletin board space and allow
you to work in groups.
In the process of completing this WebQuest, you have learned about pure science
and about applied science. You have differentiated between the kinds of tasks
scientists do and have learned about how the work of some scientists builds
a knowledge base for other scientists to progress further. You have learned
that society's needs can be a driving force in scientific research and development.
You have developed important critical thinking skills. Congratulations on reporting
the events in an organized way!