What are the limitations of using models in science?
In my half yearly exam I got the question "outline the limitations of using models in science" wrong (you can also look at my previous qestion for more information about this question)
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ne good example of the false impressions that physical models can give to a student is the model of the atom that was taught in the 50's and 60's--it used the planetary system as a model, showing electrons spinning around the nucleus in make-believe orbits, called rings, each ring holding a certain number of negative "planets." This model stalled the understanding of electron fields and the way that electron charges move through a solid. While the orbitinf electron model was easy to visualize, it did not move the student's understanding of atomic construction and forces forward toward a more sophisticated grasp of these elements. While it made Mendeleev's chart more memorizable, it did not support a deeper understanding. The same problem was built into the photosythesis model that compared baking cookies to the process of turning sunlight into food--it was oversimple and condescending to the student. One more "model" that fell short was the model of frog dissection that was designed to teach human physiology--it failed to show how the various systems--regulatory, digestive, circulatory, etc.--interacted, and gave false impressions of the size ratios of organs, giving the student a warped impression of human anatomy.
Models can be conceptual, graphical or mathematical as they are used in science. It allows one to break down a concept into simpler terms with a visual component. A limitation of models in science is that they are usually simplified versions of the real situation or concept. Sometimes, models spark debates leading to new and improved models. A model may be used when it is impossible to create the conditions necessary to test a concept or theory. However, a model is not a substitute for a controlled scientific experiment which generates data. An example of this is the model of the Earth's climate over several hundred years, projected into the future. It is a simulation and while it is used as a prediction of what is to come, all factors cannot be known about future events. Therefore, the model is only as good as the information that is used to generate it. These simulations are generated to see the effects of global warming. However, actual scientific experimentation would provide more accurate results.
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