The objective of this article is to make explicit some concrete ways in which an accurate perspective of what science is contributes significantly to improving science teaching. Effective science teaching begins with the recognition that for both practising scientists and students the desire to find answers to personally meaningful questions about natural phenomena is the strongest incentive to study science. Instructional methods that nurture and draw upon the curiosity of students have the best chance to motivate students to learn science. Teaching in this way entails helping students 1) to see the conceptual relevance, utility, and aesthetic dimension of what they are studying; 2) to appreciate the need for, and power of, rational thinking in problem solving; 3) to undertake their own exploratory projects to investigate some aspect of the physical world that interests them. For science teachers to do this well, they must, themselves, a) be knowledgeable of the science they teach, b) keep abreast of advances in their areas of interest, and c) develop their own experimental and observational skills so they can teach with confidence based on personal experience.