Imagine starting your average day. You wake up and look at what the weather forecast has to say about the outside world. You prepare yourself for the day to come, by taking a nice warm shower and using a scented bar of soap. You make yourself a large breakfast with eggs, bacon, pancakes, and a large cup of coffee. You may not have thought about it, but every action you took to begin the day involved science – whether it be the meteorologist telling you the weather by basing their predictions on patterns shown in the atmosphere, the thermodynamics used to heat up water to the perfect temperature for a shower, or the chemistry needed to make sure the pancakes came out as light and fluffy as possible.
To understand how these everyday tasks work, we need scientific literacy. What exactly is scientific literacy? Scientific literacy is described by the National Science Education Standards (1996)1 as “the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.” Now the next question is: why is this important? Why do we need to know how the world works? What is most important about scientific literacy is it gives one the ability to make informed decisions.
For example, having scientific literacy can range from making basic observations to becoming involved with local and global policies. These opportunities can change your life, as well as the lives of everyone around the globe. If you get involved with any sort of environmental committee, you can help decide the purity of water for your community. Scientific literacy can also hone your fact-checking ability. If a person tells you that men have more teeth than women, a way you can check that is by observing a group of men and a group of women and counting their teeth. This is what scientific literacy is about.
Not only will being more scientifically literate help us with knowing why things happen the way they do, it can also increase a person’s skill set. According to Let’s Talk Science (2017)2, “Doing science develops our ability to ask questions, collect information, organize and test our ideas, problem-solve and apply what we learn. Even more, science offers a powerful platform for building confidence, developing communication skills and making sense of the world around us – a world that is increasingly shaped by science and technology.” These skills, especially communication skills, shape our society and personal relations. Also taking into consideration that our world is changing because of the new technologies made every day, in order to take advantage of these technological advances, we must understand why we need them and how to use them. Though the significance of science in average routines may not be clearly visible, knowing about scientific processes will provide the skills needed to be an informed decision maker.
1 National Science Education Standards. (1996). Scientific Literacy. Retrieved February 04, 2017, from http://www.literacynet.org/science/scientificliteracy.html
2 Turnbull, M. (n.d.). Why is Science Literacy so Important? Retrieved February 04, 2017, from http://letstalkscience.ca/about-us/why-science.html