The Process of Science

Alzar School | 19.11.14
The elusive falls at Leguna del Laja

Science truly is a process.

By exploring the intricacies of Chile’s Laguna Laja National Park (Parque Nacional Leguna del Laja), students employed this process in our recent Saturday class.

Leguna del Laja is a magnificent natural wonder because it has no natural out-flowing river. The water, instead, seeps down into the surrounding ground comprised of porous Volcanic rock, and comes rushing back out into the river via several large waterfalls (Saltos) approximately 5 km downhill of the lake.  The complexity of this system provides a perfect framework for students to wonder, make observations, ask questions, and investigate to find solutions (this IS the process of Science!).

This particular saturday class starting with a discussion and application of several “types” of science. We dove into the differences between Quantitative Science (“measurable” or “objective”), and Qualitative Science (“descriptive” or “subjective”), and uncovered the details of these types of investigation via local flora.

Starting downstream of the falls, students made observations about the river. There they noted a raging river filled with blue glacial water. At the falls (pictured above), there was slightly less water, but powerful none-the-less. Interestingly, a short walk above the falls unearths a trickle of a stream which could easily be jumped across. Students then applied these observations and tried to divulge:

a) What is happening in the natural ecosystem at Leguna del Laja (i.e. why is there no river exiting the lake!?)

b) How would budding scientists (such as ourselves!) go about studying this ecosystem qualitatively, and quantitatively.

Spending an afternoon exploring a gorgeous National Park in Chile was a fringe benefit to the ultimate [scientific] goal for our day: to expand our thoughts regarding how and why science impacts our lives, and how we apply this process to better understand the world around us.

To share their thoughts, students gave short responses to a prompt about science. Enjoy!