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Question Set 1: Language of Scientific Ideas: Opinions, Hypotheses, and Theories

People use scientific language frequently in their everyday speech. For example, someone may say they have a theory that the next bubble gum ball to drop from the vending machine will be blue. This is not a scientifically correct use of the word “theory”. 
 
In each of the statements below, the bold word is used in a way that is not scientifically accurate. Identify how each of the bold words is used incorrectly. 
 
  1. My hypothesis is that if I hear creaking sounds at night, then I have a ghost in my house, because my house is haunted. 
  2. My theory is that dogs are smarter than cats.
  3. In my opinion, it is 75 degrees outside today.
  4. I do not believe in evolution, because it is just a theory.
  5. Because global warming is just an opinion held by some politicians and scientists,  teachers should not have to teach about it in school.
  6. The scientists proved their hypothesis about ocean pH in that experiment.
 
Additionally, answer the following questions:
 
  1. In your own words, define the word opinion. Think of an example statement that is a opinion. Describe why your example is an opinion. 
  2. In your own words, define the word hypothesis. Think of an example statement that is a hypothesis. Describe why your example is a hypothesis.
  3. In your own words, define the word theory. Think of an example of a theory. Describe why your example is a theory. 
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.