Inside: Respect the importance of scientific literacy. Daily decisions on life, and our ability to converse intelligently is rooted in our basic science literacy.
Part of what it is to be scientifically-literate, it’s not simply, ‘Do you know what DNA is? Or what the Big Bang is?’ That’s an aspect of science literacy. The biggest part of it is do you know how to think about information that’s presented in front of you. — Neil deGrasse Tyson
Scientific Literacy and the Natural Curiosity of Children
I think I understood the importance of scientific literacy as a very young girl. Well perhaps not consciously but my sense of wonder was non-stop! I was constantly asking questions. I think I drove my parents nuts at times. Do spiders cry real tears like me? Why does the sky look so blue? Every dog that wandered by my pram I wanted to touch. I was curious about everything. I actually did drive my grade three teacher absolutely insane. My questions were relentless and she often became very frustrated by my intense curiosity.
My own boys followed suit. They asked lots of questions about anything and everything they met. It is the nature of the child to be curious and their intense curiosity built a tolerance for those students of my own who bombarded me daily with questions and anecdotes about their discoveries. I remember one comment from my middle son. He once confided in me his hypothesis of the inner workings of traffic lights. He bashfully admitted that he thought traffic lights contained wee people who changed the color from red to yellow to green. Logical thinking for a 4-year-old. I’m not sure if he would admit that thinking to his university professors or friends today.
The intense curiosity of children for how the world works is the stepping stone to development of their scientific literacy. It is essential that parents and educators not squash that curiosity by impatience. It is so very easy to silence kids through our own frustration of their exuberance or perhaps at our own inability to answer some of those questions.
Scientific Literacy Defined
Scientific literacy can be defined as the knowledge and understanding of at the very least basic scientific concepts and processes. Scientific literacy cannot be taken lightly. It allows you to take an active part in and understand public issues in your municipality, your country and in the world.
The Importance of Scientific Literacy
Having a basic understanding of science is vital in today’s technological world. We live in an age of constant scientific discovery. New revolutionary technologies that can both positively and in some cases negatively affect our lives are appearing at breakneck speeds. If you look through a newspaper on any given day you are likely to see a number of news stories covering topics in global warming, cloning or GMO foods. These are issues that directly affect your life.Having a basic understanding of science is vital in today's technological world. Click To Tweet
Understanding of these issues has become as basic as the need to eat. And the process must be started as young as possible. All persons need to be scientifically literate to:
- appreciate the world around them;
- make informed personal choices;
- be able to intelligently discuss public issues all of which would benefit from at least some level of scientific literacy;
- appreciate everyday activities which are enriched by an understanding of science;
- the intellectual climate of this period in time is heavily influenced by our understanding of science;
- being scientifically literate gives us the ability to apply information in an proper context,
- it allows us to analyse and to synthesize information from various topics,
- finally, we can then evaluate that information to decide a suitable course of action
So, as young kids are we consciously aware of our burgeoning scientific literacy? Probably not. But in our younger days most of us were still full of the wonder and beauty of the Earth. We asked questions constantly to mentally put in place all the tidbits of life thrown at us. Some of us sadly lose that sense of wonder and stop asking questions.
There are 4 key concepts which help professionals and the ordinary folks like most of us make sense of scientific concepts and ideas. Understanding these key concepts gives us a better understnading of science-related material. These concepts pave the way for science literacy:
- Scientific Process also known as the Scientific Method
- Organization and Systems
- Variation, Change and Diversity
Never stop questioning the world around you. Click To TweetLife is a nonstop process of learning. Our environment, our health, our day-to-day lives revolve around understanding a vast number of science facts and concepts. The importance of scientific literacy must be recognized and fostered in our children at home and at school. Never stop questioning the world around you.