What Is a Model in Science?

A scientific model is a conceptual, mathematical or physical representation of a real-world phenomenon. A model is generally constructed for an object or process when it is at least partially understood, but difficult to observe directly. Examples include sticks and balls representing molecules, mathematical models of planetary movements or conceptual principles like the ideal gas law. Because of the infinite variations actually found in nature, all but the simplest and most vague models are imperfect representations of real-world phenomena.