Our Philosophy

The Beneski Museum is dedicated to:

  1. Preserving and interpreting the physical evidence of the geological history of the Earth, the evolutionary history of its inhabitants, and the processes that have shaped both through time
  2. Providing direct experience with the materials and former inhabitants of the Earth
  3. Challenging visitors to consider problems of scientific interpretation
  4. Stimulating the scientific curiosity and observational acuity of students and scholars, fostering in them a spirit of inquiry, stewardship and wonder toward the Earth 

In order to effectively accomplish these goals, the Museum in 2018 partnered with the Amherst College Science Center to employ the Seven Tenets of the Nature of Science (as outlined by Lederman, Abd-El-Khalick, Bell, & Schwartz, 2002; Osborne, Collins, Ratcliffe, Millar, & Duschl, 2003; Bell 2009). Below, each tenet is detailed and explained showing how it is intrinsic to the educational philosophy of the Beneski Museum. In all programming and educational materials, the museum hopes to convey to visitors not only the vast collection of scientific knowledge (facts), but also the process and understanding of the Nature of Science itself (systems).  Additionally the museum wishes to help improve scientific literacy, inspiring in visitors a desire to learn and explore, and empowering them to push the frontier of what is possible. 

The Seven Tenets of the Nature of Science

Moving Forward

The Nature of Science invites everyone into the conversation. Science is not an absolute, empirical, unchanging body of knowledge, it is a process of understanding and a collection of conclusions developed collaboratively over time. By teaching the Nature of Science itself, explicitly, in addition to scientific methods and facts, the field can better be appreciated with an enhanced respect for the utility of science in large-scale decision making;  everyone can think like a scientist.

Before, during, and after visiting the Museum, educators are encouraged to address these key concepts. Link them to the skills developed in the classroom (like observation, inference, investigation, experimentation, conclusion) and to the histories of the objects on display at Beneski. If you have any questions, please email Museum Educator Fred Venne or Dalya Ackerman ‘23 for more information and a list of resources. 

Developed using Teaching the Nature of Science: Three Critical Questions by Randy L. Bell, Ph.D.