Scientific Literacy

The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one. Through the constant development of human civilisation, the value associated with intellectual coherence has only increased. As the importance of an enriching education has been understood and realised, the demands from it have evolved.

In the 21 st century, the responsibility to provide everyone with the background skills to cope with the fast paced changes of the present and future has been shouldered by scientists and educators. In this regard, the World Economic Forum (WEF) (in a report analysing the New Vision for Education) has listed a set of 16 skills that students must inculcate to assert their character and competency. Scientific literacy features among the foundational subset of the same.

(WEF report: https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_New_Vision_for_Education.pdf )

Scientific literacy is rooted in the most general principles and broad knowledge of science. It requires one to observe, question, test, evaluate and revise our opinions as needed. Science is about continually acquiring new knowledge but more importantly, it’s about keeping an open and curious mind. Developing scientific literacy should be a priority at every stage of a child’s education—both inside and outside of the classroom.

At ThinkTac, we recognise the wonders that an engaging approach to learning science can have. We encourage children to explore and question the world around them, as well as continue with their science education. Our programmes let young students have fun while they master science with our Hands-on, Experiential Science programmes even from the comfort of their home. The study of science and maths are originally like games – with rules but no objectives and that is essentially how they must be treated.

(Link: https://www.thinktac.com/ )

Scientific literacy is paramount to the 21 st Century society. UNESCO provided a universal goal by the name of STL –Scientific and Technological Literacy to reaffirm the same. In India, the fight for the universalisation of education is still very much on, and the implementation of STL is impossible to envision in the near future.

The way to create an impact, is then to attempt amends at a grassroots level. Science-education strategies should focus on increasing the scientific literacy of the general public. Educators have simplified the basic methodology to implement the same, and fit it into a sentence plug with acronyms to make it easier to recollect. It goes as follows-
Peter Right Has Excellent Apple Cakes”
Here the letters expand as:
P- Purpose
R- Reasoning
H- Hypothesis
E- Experimentation
A- Analysis
C- Conclusion

The sole purpose of introducing this at the grassroot level is to breakdown the complexity that experimentation is associated with. It can be done by integrating experiential learning aids like cards, tactile boxes and natural findings into the syllabus. It helps students get a feel of how scientists think in real time and could ignite the seed of innovation in their minds. This method makes them think cogently and view the world with a keen eye for concept and detail. This approach will also foster interdisciplinary cooperation.

Ultimately, scientific literacy has 3 objectives – to help people understand day to day issues of global pertinence, to appreciate how the natural laws of science influence their lives and to gain perspective on the intellectual climate of their time. All of this, in turn, will improve their chances of lifetime success. As American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “If you’re scientifically literate, the world looks very different to you, and that understanding empowers you.”

Experiential learning

  1. Correlation

Have you ever baked a cake? 

If you have, you know that binge watching YouTube tutorials and re-reading the recipe till you can recite it in your sleep are sure shot ways of prepping yourself for the actual event. But what you also might know is that until you don the mitts and take in the heat of the oven, you don’t know what you’re in for.

It is going to take you not one, not even two but quite a good number of attempts to bake the perfect treat for yourself.

The phrase ‘Old habits die hard’ is quite true in experimentally every case. When you are exposed to something routinely, withdrawal from it is an uphill task. Now, some genius sitting with his thoughts in some corner of the world thought to himself—What if we made things we needed to learn a habit? Chances are that they wouldn’t ever escape one’s memory.

This is a probable thought from which experiential learning found its existence. Experiencing theoretical concepts through real world simulations of the same is what this system encompasses.

  1. Definition

A more technically accepted definition of experiential learning would be a hands-on experience of concepts which are aimed at inculcating critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. One could also make sense of it as repeated cycles involving experience, reflection, conceptualization and experimentation in any order.

  1. Food for thought

Aristotle famously said, “For the things we have to learn: Before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”, this is merely the essence on which the larger dream of the inclusion of experiential learning in every realm of academics is based.

Experiential learning as a term could invoke a sense of complexity, but truth to be told, it can be as simple as making a paper-boat. Everyone is surrounded by science. As generic as this statement is, looking at the world around you- your routinely tasks or items lying around you and integrating them with basic science concepts can itself pave the way for greater understandings that are more often self-taught. Each one of us can have our own Newton and the apple moment if we paid enough attention. The possibilities are endless and the learnings are limitless. 

  1. The need

Today is truly a good time for the enthusiasts of science and technology. Opportunities are knocking many doors and the world is more accepting than ever. It is no more a society that rigidly upholds its ideals of the earth being flat. Yet, it is sad to see that top graduates and academically progressed individuals find themselves at the hands of monotony and are far from the liberation of innovation. To propel the fuel that innovators need, experiential learning is a sure shot go-to.

Click here to get your own experiential science kit from ThinkTac.