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Performance Benchmark N.12.B.1
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Nature of Science
Scientific Inquiry
Science, Technology, and Society
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Nature of Science (NOS)
Life Science
Earth Science
Physical Science

Students know science, technology, and society influence one another in both positive and negative ways.  E/S

In 1620, Francis Bacon wrote Novum Organum (The New Organon, or True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature) in which he described among other scientific topics, the inductive method of reasoning used by scientists today.  He, like many other early scientists defied ancient philosophers and religion as the basis for understanding the universe.  Bacon and other early “modern scientists” began describing and using scientific processes such as questioning, observing, hypothesizing and testing.  In a discussion in Novum Organum regarding the three greatest ambitions of man, Bacon wrote: 

"But if a man endeavor to establish and extend the power and dominion of the human race itself over the universe, his ambition (if ambition it can be called) is without doubt both a more wholesome thing and a more noble than the other two.  Now the empire of man over things depends wholly on the arts and sciences.  For we cannot command nature except by obeying her." (from

Bacon wrote that man’s greatest ambition was to be master of the universe and that science was critical to achieving that ambition.  With that thought and similar thoughts by other early scientists, modern science began.  With the advent of modern science, the world quickly changed as science influenced society, and as society demanded changes that science could affect.  The time period between the 1500’s and the 1700’s is often called the Scientific Revolution.  This time period began roughly around the time that Copernicus described the heliocentric model of the cosmos and continued until the time of Newton.  During this time, religious and philosophy - based explanations for natural world phenomena were beginning to be replaced by evidence-based explanations. 

To read more about the scientific revolution, see 

From the 1700’s forward, science knowledge rapidly grew and contributed to the advancement of technology which enhanced comfort, subsistence, health, and all other aspects of life.  During the Industrial Revolution (mid 1700’s to mid 1800’s) we began to see a rapid growth in technology. 

For more information on the Industrial Revolution, see

World War II also marked the beginning of an especially rapid growth of science and technology.  With the development and deployment of the atomic bomb in 1945, science became a vital part of the life of all people.  Prior to this time, scientific study was progressing, but much of the scientific knowledge developed was kept within the circles of the scientists themselves.  As governments, industries, militaries, academic institutions, and nations began forming collaborative partnerships, science grew into big business, and science and the technologies developed out of new scientific knowledge became significant in the lives of all humans, as well as the lives of other organisms.  

Today, science, society, and technology are intimately and permanently entwined.  Society’s needs, or perceived needs, drive scientific inventions.  Advances in science and technology affect societies.  For an article discussing the impact of science and society on each other, written by, Dr. Sydney Brenner (2002 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology) see  
This article was originally printed in Science, (1998), vol. 282, no. 5393, p. 1411-1412.

The implications of the interactions are critical topics of discussion and study in the high school science class.  To read an article discussing the science-society interactions and the implications in science education, see

Scientists cannot isolate themselves from societal concerns.  Rather scientists are responsible for contributing to public understanding and education as policies are written.  To read more about this important role of scientists, see:  and

Chapter 1 of Science for All Americans discusses science as a complex social activity.  This important document discusses how science is affected by cultures, and how cultures are influenced to some extent by scientific discoveries.  It also discusses general ethical principles of science and the roles of scientists as specialists and as citizens of the world.

Chapter 1 of Science for All Americans can be accessed online at

The National Science Standards address the issues of Science, Technology and Society in two of the content standards.  The following summary charts show the standards for all grade levels.

Figure 1. The National Science Standards Content Standard E. (from

Figure 2. The National Science Standards Content Standard F. (from


It is important to look at the Nevada State Science Standards Benchmark N.12.B.1 within the context of these two national standards.  Historical, current, and potential future impacts of scientific and technological discoveries need to be imbedded throughout all science courses taught.  As a student learns about physical, life, earth, environmental, space, and other scientific concepts, they must also learn to weigh the risks and costs involved against the benefits of any new discovery or technology.  What is considered a pro or a positive aspect of a discovery or technology by one person may be considered a con, or negative, to another person.  As an example, the ability to genetically manipulate organisms is a pro to some individuals who believe that some living things can be made better (example: crops, livestock), but negative to others who think that life should not be altered from its natural state.  It is not the job of an educator to teach students what is right and what is wrong about scientific and technological advances.  However, it is the teacher’s job to help students learn how to think critically, to thoroughly study an issue, then to make decisions based upon what they know and have learned.  
The following section provides several specific examples of how science, technology, and society influence one another.  These are only a few examples of topics that can be addressed throughout various science courses.

Technological advances affect society. 
For example, with communication technology, virtually no part of the world is isolated from the rest of the world.  Communication tools have come a long way in alleviating social isolation, boundaries, and relationships.  Technological advances have changed how societies work, live, and interact.  Generally we think of technological advances as things that help in day-to-day lives.

For a timeline of technological advances from the year 1023 through the early 2000’s, see

Some negatives do exist with the advancements in technology.  For example, technology may increase productivity and efficiency, but, at the same time, because of the increased efficiency, entire groups of workers may be displaced.  As another example, military technological advances may increase successful national and military objectives, but may cause severe loss of lives. 

Medical and health advancements occur daily
Science is helping humans (and other organisms) to live longer, and to live healthier.  As an example, the study of genetics is growing at a rapid pace.  With the completion of the Human Genome Project, as well as with developments in other genetic research, many societal impacts are present.

For more information on the Human Genome Project, see

Genetic disorders that were once life threatening are now treatable.
Advances in genetics, vaccinations, and medical treatments, have all lead to changes in how long humans live and made improvements in their quality of life.  Nanotechnology is enabling medical treatments never before possible.  With improved life expectancy comes societal issues such as how to care for larger numbers of elderly people and issues with insurance and healthcare costs.  Genetic manipulation has led to improved health care as well as to improved agricultural practices.  Genetic manipulation also leads to ethical questions such as, what genetic manipulations are acceptable and which are not. 

For a primer on genomics and its impact on society, see

To read about the pros and cons of nanotechnology in medicine and health see

Natural resource use affects society. 
While the use of natural resources can improve life, uncontrolled used can lead to disaster.  Science and technology have improved our abilities to utilize resources.  However excessive use can lead to problems that affect society. 

To read more about natural resources and their uses, see

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Performance Benchmark N.12.B.1

Students know science, technology, and society influence one another in both positive and negative ways.  E/S

Common misconceptions associated with this benchmark

1. Students incorrectly think that there is always a “right” and a “wrong” answer to a question about science. 

 Several websites provide resources that can be used to encourage research and discussion about scientific developments that may be controversial.  By investigating and using the resources at these sites, teachers can encourage the development of critical thinking and inquiry thought processes as students discuss and debate the pros and cons of scientific issues.  Through this they will learn that there is not always a right or a wrong answer. 

For resources regarding the ethics of Nanoscience and Technology, go to 

To investigate several ethical discussions regarding the Human Genome project visit

To read an “Approach to Environmental Policy Analysis for Sustainable Development.” visit 

2. Students may think that society drives science and technology, but may not understand that science and technology may also drive society.

The needs and wants of society often drives scientific research and technological advances.  However, often a scientific discovery or basic research influences what society thinks.  An excellent example of how science can drive society can be seen in the development of antibiotics.  Penicillin was “accidentally” discovered during scientific investigations of Sir Alexander Fleming.  As humans saw the advantage of this accidental discovery, the desire for more and better antibacterial agents became greater. 

For more information about the discovery of penicillin, see  

Likewise, as new technologies are developed today, the societal desire for better, longer, healthier lives pushes the scientific research fields to discover ways to use new technologies to more effectively treat health issues.

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Performance Benchmark N.12.B.1

Students know science, technology, and society influence one another in both positive and negative ways.  E/S

Sample Test Questions

1st Item Specification: Explain with examples how science and technology benefit one another.   

Depth of Knowledge Level 1

  1. Which of the following examples illustrates how technology is beneficial to science?
    1. Computers are processing data without needing as many people to run them which creates less jobs for people.
    2. Computers are allowing more data to be processed in a shorter amount of time.
    3. People are relying on calculators and don’t know their multiplication facts.
    4. People are using email and texting only for communication instead of spending time in person with friends.
  1. Which of the following examples shows how science and technology are NOT beneficial to each other?
    1. Computers are able to complete so many parts of experiments, that scientists are no longer as knowledgeable about why certain processes work. 
    2. Technology can help scientist do research without human bias.
    3. Science allows technology to advance and be more useful to society.
    4. Scientists are able to create technology programs for computers that can keep track of data that use to take days and days for humans to process.  

2nd Item Specification:
Explain with examples how scientific events and discoveries have positively and negatively influenced society.

Depth of Knowledge Level 1

  1. When deciding whether or not to implement a new technology, the affected society must always
    1. weigh the costs and benefits of the new technology.
    2. make a decision based on what the majority of the people in the specific sector of society says.
    3. use the most cost effective form of technology available.
    4. run sufficient safety tests on the technology to make sure no organisms will be harmed. 
  1. Vaccinations are available for many diseases from the flu to the measles.  Which of the following statements explains a negative result of vaccines?
    1. Vaccines help the body develop anti-bodies to fight off the infection.
    2. Vaccines help strengthen a bodies immune system against future disease.
    3. Vaccines help to create strains of diseases that are immune to treatement.
    4. Vaccines help prevent the spread of curable diseases like smallpox. 

Depth of Knowledge Level 2

  1. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) were introduced in the 1930’s as a successful replacement for hazardous materials used as coolants in refrigerators and as propellants for many aerosol products.  CFC’s are now banned in the United States and in most of the world.  The removal of CFC’s from common use is because they damage the ozone layer.  This is an example of how
    1. science and technology always benefit each other.
    2. science, technology, and society operate independently of each other.
    3. scientific advances are influenced by the costs and benefits of those advances.
    4. science is proven wrong given enough time.
  1. Science, technology, and society affect each other in both positive and negative ways. One example was the discovery of antibiotics.  Which of the following BEST describes the negative affect that antibiotics have had on society?
    1. The extensive use of antibiotics has led to the evolution of dangerous resistant strains of bacteria.
    2. The extensive use of antibiotics has caused several forms of new cancers to develop.
    3. The use of antibiotics in consumer products has led to increased obesity in humans.
    4. The increased use of antibiotics caused an over-abundance of medical professionals.

3rd Item Specification: Explain with examples how technology has positively and negatively affected society.

Depth of Knowledge Level 1

  1. Which of the following is an example of how cellular phones have negatively impacted society?
    1. People can use them to call for help if they are in a car accident.
    2. People can use them to keep in touch with friends and family.
    3. Some phones allow people to check their email when away from their computer.
    4. Some car accidents have occurred because someone was talking on their phone.
  1. Which of the following is an example of how the internet has negatively impacted society?
    1. People can communicate with others quickly and at any time of day.
    2. Anyone can put information online whether it is fact or fiction.
    3. Information about millions of subjects is available all day long, every day.
    4. Using the internet can cut down on the amount of paper being used. 

Depth of Knowledge Level 2

  1. Stem cell research has become a large area of study in the medical field.  Which of the following statements explains the costs of stem cell research?
    1. They may be used to screen new drugs and toxins.
    2. They may help us understand birth defects.
    3. They may be able to replace dead or damaged cells.
    4. They may lead to the creation of unhealthy clones. 
  1. As a result of improvements in nanotechnology, socks were created with silver particles inside the material.  Which of the following statements explains how the socks have positively influenced society?
    1. The socks have anti-bacterial and odor-fighting properties.
    2. The silver can come out of the sock through normal laundry washing.
    3. The particles can travel through the waterways harming wild life.
    4. The silver may have unwanted effects on humans. 

4th Item Specification: Explain with examples how societal needs and pressures influence the course of scientific research and technological advances.

Depth of Knowledge Level 1

  1. The automobile industry is constantly changing and adapting to the needs and pressures of society.  Which of the following is NOT an example of this?
    1. The increase in hybrid automobiles in response to people wanting to take care of the environment. 
    2. The increase in SUV manufacturing in response to people wanting to take care of the environment.
    3. The development of the assembly line lead to the development of more affordable cars for the entire population.
    4. The development of the SUV in response to the needs of people wanting to have more room for people and cargo. 
  1. Science and technology have been pressured by society to create items to meet the needs of the public.  Which of the following statements explains why fast food was created?
    1. People were too busy to cook for themselves and wanted a quick alternative.
    2. People wanted to have unhealthy food available to them 24 hours a day.
    3. People wanted to create jobs for people who did not complete college.
    4. People wanted to have a more expensive alternative to cooking at home. 

Depth of Knowledge Level 2

  1. Why has there been so much effort put towards creating clean energy?
    1. Society wanted a cheaper way to get energy for their homes and cars.
    2. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource that is getting too expensive.
    3. Nuclear energy seemed like a safer alternative to petroleum energy.
    4. People wanted to find a better use for the wind turbines in California. 
  1. Video games have now become a regular part of many US households.  Which of the following changes has been influence by society’s need to become healthier?
    1. Quicker gaming systems have been created to support enhanced graphics.
    2. Systems have been connected to the internet to allow players to interact.
    3. Systems have incorporated more physical movement to increase exercise.
    4. Children of all ages can now play and learn through video games. 

5th Item Specification: Explain with examples how technological advances frequently have unintended consequences that are not initially evident. 

Depth of Knowledge Level 1

  1. Which of the following statements is an unintended consequence from the invention of video games?
    1. The increase hand and eye coordination of teenagers.
    2. The decrease in physical activity by teenagers.
    3. The increase in the number of kids playing games.
    4. The decrease in the amount of time kids are bored.
  1. Which of the following technological advances lead to the unintended consequence of increased trash?
    1. Mapping the human genome.
    2. Stem cell research
    3. Nanotechnology
    4. New packaging technology

Depth of Knowledge Level 2

  1. Frozen meals that are cooked with the microwave have created which of the following negative consequence?
    1. Incorrect cooking of the meals is causing food poisoning.
    2. Meals are pre-portioned to help with calorie in-take.
    3. Meals offer healthier alternative to fast food.
    4. Family size meals encourage families to eat dinner together. 
  1. Technological advances often have unintended consequences.  Which of the following is an example of an unintended consequence of fast food restaurants?
    1. People are able to pick up a meal quickly in between other errands.
    2. People can spend less on a meal than going to a restaurant.
    3. People have more opportunities to work in the food industry.
    4. People are becoming more obese because of the convience food.

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Performance Benchmark N.12.B.1

Students know science, technology, and society influence one another in both positive and negative ways.  E/S

Answers to Sample Test Questions

  1. B, DOK Level 1
  2. A, DOK Level 1
  3. A, DOK Level 1
  4. C, DOK Level 1
  5. C, DOK Level 2
  6. A, DOK Level 2
  7. D, DOK Level 1
  8. B, DOK Level 1
  9. D, DOK Level 2
  10. A, DOK Level 2
  11. B, DOK Level 1
  12. A, DOK Level 1
  13. B, DOK Level 2
  14. C, DOK Level 2
  15. B, DOK Level 1
  16. D, DOK Level 1
  17. A, DOK Level 2
  18. D, DOK Level 2

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Performance Benchmark N.12.B.1

Students know science, technology, and society influence one another in both positive and negative ways.  E/S

Intervention Strategies and Resources

The following list of intervention strategies and resources will facilitate student understanding of this benchmark.

1. Technological Advances in Health Lesson from AAAS Science NetLinks

This lesson will help students better understand how technology and science influence our existence. In addition, there are specific questions designed to help them overcome misconceptions that research shows students believe.

For this lesson on how technology influences human existence, see


2. Science Issues from the Royal Society

A British website that addresses many science, society, and technology related issues.  This is a good resource for general information, as well as the Royal Society’s positions regarding many Science Technology and Society topics.  Examples of topics found at this site include animals in research, biological weapons, climate change, infectious disease, and stem cell and cloning.

To access these resources, go to


3. Articles on the History of Chemistry from the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF)

This CHF site contains several readings and activities that incorporate the history of chemistry and molecular sciences.  Many of the readings address social issues that were present and in some cases helped to drive the sciences being studied.

To investigate these articles and associated resources visit  


4. How does Technology Transform Society? Closer to the Truth series

CLOSER TO TRUTH (CTT) is a new cross-media genre presenting to broad public audiences "Knowledge Affairs" in which the fundamental questions of our times are explored by creative and thoughtful scientists, scholars and artists.  CTT affords the opportunity to explore and contribute to the competitive marketplace of fundamental ideas.  Interviews with various scientists discuss the affects and consequences of technological advances.

To explore this series go to


5. Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century

The National Academy of Engineering has created a website devoted to the top 20 achievements of the 20th century.  Upon selecting one of these achievements a detailed history, timeline, and background on the topic as well as the next step are presented.

To explore the history, impacts, and other facets of major 20th century technologies, go to


6. Curriculum Supplement Series from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The National Institutes of Health have published several curriculums that deal with health issues.  Each curriculum encourages students to study all aspects of particular issues prior to making decisions about the issue.  Examples of curriculums available include Cell Biology and Cancer, Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, Human Genetic Variation, and Using Technology to Study Cellular and Molecular Biology to name a few.

To access these resources, see


7 . Ethics and Genetics from the Museum of Medical Research

A Revolution in Progress Human Genetics and Medical Research has readings and discussion questions regarding the ethics of genetics.

To access this exhibit, go to


8. Genetic Education Modules for Teachers

This resource is managed by the National Human Genome Research Institute.  It houses genetic teaching modules that include history, facts, technology, ethical, legal and social issues that surround genetic research and advancements that are part of the Human Genome Project.

To explore this resource visit


9. Power, Pollution, Pros and Cons lesson on the Cost/Benefit use of Non-Renewable Resources

This lesson comes from the organization PULSE (Promoting Understanding and Learning for Society & Environmental Health).  In this lesson, small groups create a table listing the non-renewable energy sources and renewable energy sources. A comparison and review of the advantages and drawbacks of each is explored. The environmental health theme investigates health problems associated with electricity generation.

To look at this lesson, go to

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