The difference between “learning about science” and “figuring out how and why something works.”
I think the biggest difference between 'learning about' and 'figuring out how/why' has to do with who is at the center of the lesson. With 'learning about' I view it as more teacher directed and picture students sitting at desks or on the carpet listening to the teacher tell them about a science topic. But with 'figuring out how/why', the students are at the center of the learning and are directing the lesson. They are exploring through inquiry, asking questions and conversing with one another. They are engaged with what they are learning which we know is a leading cause as to how students can alter their misconceptions to make more sense.
'Figuring things out' is most certainly represents where science teaching is today. It has many students at the center with their learning and contains everything from incorporating their metacognition to their imagination. For example, when a flashlight goes out from being left on too long and students are asked to explore possible reasons within a group of classmates, they are using their imagination to think about what the flashlight looks like inside, how flashlights are made, if there are different kinds of flashlights, if flashlights can be powered different ways etc. They are opening up their brains to new questions that can lead them to figuring out answers and in the long run relating it to problems they'll have in the future. Going along with this flashlight example, they are also taking on the problem with a scientists lens through metacognition and thinking about the problem as it relates to the real world. This helps teachers understand where they are confused and how to plan their lessons for the future.