The Science of Nature and the Nature of Science: Natural History Museums On-line

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Roy Hawkey


The websites of natural history museums worldwide contain a wealth of resources relating to the natural world. Much of this content includes high quality material that reflects not only the scientific study of nature but also the very nature of that science. This paper proposes a variety of criteria for evaluating the potential of such sites for enhancing student learning in science, especially in those aspects of the science curriculum concerned with processes, methods, evidence and interpretation. It then uses these to explore a number of natural history museum sites. The analysis reveals a diversity of perspectives and assumptions about the scientific research undertaken in natural history museums, especially in relation to taxonomy and systematics. It also identifies ways in which ideas about science itself – and about learning – are made explicit on museum websites.

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Author Biography

Roy Hawkey

The Natural History Museum, London, UK