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Scientific Literacy Under The Microscope: A Who...

My ultimate goal is to engage people in scientific research that may not otherwise be interested and to show others that there can be beauty in lab work. It is not just statistics and pipetting. Art is an accessible way to communicate with broad groups of people, and this is one of the reasons I chose this medium. Taking the project a step further, each piece in my work has been named after historical or contemporary female scientists I find extremely fascinating or have personally influenced me. I chose to do this not only to represent women in science but also to represent the female population heavily impacted by ovarian cancer. When examined closely, we can see the universe everywhere, even under a microscope.

Scientific Literacy Under the Microscope: A Who...

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Science is one of the most valuable tools in the modern world. Still, for it to affect positive change on a global level, well-educated individuals must be capable of utilizing it effectively. The Master of Science in Education with a Concentration in Curriculum and Instruction in STEM Education online program from Southern Oregon University (SOU) helps educators develop the knowledge and pedagogical understanding to foster science literacy in the classroom.

The key to science literacy is abandoning outdated methods like memorization and progressing to a level of instruction where students become active participants in scientific research. Instructors can emphasize critical thinking and analysis with the following strategies:

Putting issues of education and training to one side, I see this trend as indicative of something even more worrying: a decline in scientific literacy that, in the longer term, poses a threat to our democracies. We must act to reverse this trend as a matter of urgency.

As the fourth, final and perhaps most important priority, I believe we must do more to familiarise young people with research methods and the standards against which scientific truths are measured. They should experience first-hand and observe for themselves the degree of rigour involved in designing scientific experiments. They should learn to recognise the critical importance of peer review and the process by which researchers hunt down even the subtlest cognitive biases that could skew their findings. Armed with this understanding, they may come to better appreciate the worth of a conclusion that has passed these stringent tests.

As our society prepares to face immense challenges in the immediate future, equipping everyone with an understanding of fundamental scientific concepts should be our absolute priority. Because our ability to rally behind science will prove crucial in our efforts to shape a better world and build a future we can all trust.

As I labeled the literacy facets of these lessons, I more fully realized how integrated these components should be in a classroom all the time. Effective science instruction constantly: 1) supports the literacy work that students do (L), 2) as it encourages them to interact with text like scientists (DL), 3) while they engage in meaningful scientific thinking and practice (SL).

With my cross-disciplinary art project, I want to spread awareness and understanding of how the genetics of ovarian cancer works as it is the fifth most prevalent cancer amongst women and, according to the American Cancer Society, women have a one in seventy-five chance of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer during their lifetime. I want to engage people in scientific research whom may not be otherwise interested in it; to show others that there can be beauty in laboratory research work and that it is not just pipetting and statistics. When examined closely, we can see the universe everywhere, even under a microscope. Each piece in my work has been named after historical or contemporary female scientists who I find extremely fascinating or have influenced me personally. I chose to do this not only to represent women in science but also to represent the female population that is heavily impacted by ovarian cancer.

People who are literate in atmospheric science understand the "big ideas" of the relevant scientific knowledge. Armed with this understanding, they will have the basis to communicate about the Earth's atmosphere in a meaningful way, and be equipped to make informed and responsible decisions about activities that impact the Earth's atmosphere. This framework for Atmospheric Science Literacy provides guidance to educators and the public on these big ideas. We have chosen to structure the framework with Essential Principles (EPs) at the highest level, on which more detailed information depends. Subordinate and more specific Fundamental Concepts (FCs) offer foundational knowledge which is needed to fully understand the Essential Principles.

The ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve staff proposes to build effective relationships with local students and teachers to expand scientific literacy throughout Charleston, Beaufort, and Colleton counties and create a more inclusive and diverse conservation workforce. This project will strengthen the conservation pipeline by developing programs for Title I middle schools and high schools, empowering more teachers to bring scientific concepts into their classrooms, and creating guiding resources for students and early career individuals.

The argument for greater scientific literacy is that to meaningfully participate, appreciate and even survive our modern lives, we all need certain knowledge and skills about science and technology. Ok. But what will this look like exactly, how will you know what we all need to know in advance and how on earth do you expect to get people trained up? These are serious problems.

Work to promote scientific literacy so everyone is up to speed, empowered and ready to contribute to the great debates about science, technology and the future? No. Invite them to participate, and really mean it, and they will find the motivation to become as scientifically literate as you, or rather they, please.

This is just a brief sketch of the basic problems with scientific literacy (yes, this was the brief version). If you are interested in more, I can recommend the following. They are all a bit old. It is an old argument.

Great post as always Alice, and one I'm going to need to think about more, but a couple of initial responses:-1. I agree that non-scientists often (mistakenly) think of science as a collection of facts, rather than a method of investigating the world. A friend of mine was recently asked by her four year old son, 'Mummy, what is science?' She answered that it was 'Space, and animals, and gravity and, errm, everything!' I died a little inside.But it's not only people without science training who think like that. You only have to look at some of the teachers bitching about the How Science Works component of the new GCSE, and how 'there's no science in the GCSE anymore' to realise that some of them mistake science (a method) with the *products* of science (equations, boiling points, etc). And to be honest, I think there are scientists who don't understand how science works (or how it really works). For example, some will flatly deny that science can be culturally influenced, and claim that it always produces objective facts. When something like that fact that we only recently noticed there are gay animals can very easily disprove this.But yes, we just get to a *different* deficit model, where now what we are decrying is the deficit of people not knowing enough about science studies. Which doesn't really help.2. I don't think I quite understand your conclusions. I think you're saying that instead of trying to make people 'know more science', we need to make it possible for them to find out the stuff they need, when they want it. And also that science needs to be somehow more socially integrated, partly to make this possible. Is that right?Someone pointed out on twitter that *sometimes* those who idolise science (but aren't working scientists) fail to understand what science really is. I can't help feeling that some of the more heated rhetoric on this topic doesn't help. If the world must be divided into 'pro-science' and 'anti-science', then naturally some people will choose the anti-science side, for reasons that are valid for them. What I'm trying to say is, I don't think this kind of side-taking helps. It makes it more difficult, not less, for 'science' to be integrated in the way you're suggesting. Someone can be opposed to GM crops without being 'anti-science'. And someone can respect the scientific method, etc, without supporting every piece of scientific research ever done, or every conclusion drawn. This should be obvious.So what I'm saying is, I think to get where you're suggesting, can we all try not to be black and white and 'you're either for us or against us' about things? And obviously, everyone in the entire world, ever should take part in I'm a Scientist, Get me out of Here!

mcshanahanYes, the deficit model is a not-so-hidden baddie in all of this :)Also, this is just basic "sci com'n 101" objections to sci literacy. As you say there are other ways to think about what we might mean by scientific literacy, and deeper more nuanced discussions than I could sensibly fit here. In particular, I think people in education have looked at this in a lot of detail, and that the issues are slightly different in school contexts. Still, I think the idea that there are some broadly applicable basic scientific skills/ tools/ knowledge is one that runs through many views of sci literacy. And I'd disagree with that most of that, most of the time. Mainly because I don't think we can reduce science in that sort of way.

This is a fantastic post, so thanks. I shall be beating people around the head with the quote you picked out : "Invite them to participate, and really mean it, and they will find the motivation to become as scientifically literate as you, or rather they, please." This is exactly the behaviour that we see on our Galaxy Zoo project as people who had no idea they wanted to think deeply about these things get drawn in.I think one other very important point is that the joy of doing science (and I'm well aware that I have an incredible job as an astronomer) is linked to your third kind of literacy too. You need that kind of understanding to get why for many scientists it's the process of conversation, discussion and argument that is engaging, and is often missing from attempts to encourage participation in and around science. 041b061a72


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