Science is everywhere in today’s world. It is part of our daily lives, from cooking and gardening, to recycling and comprehending the daily weather report, to reading a map and using a computer. Advances in technology are transforming our world at an incredible pace, and our children’s future will surely be filled with further leaps forward we can only imagine. Being ‘science literate’ will no longer be just an advantage but an absolute necessity. We cannot escape from the significance of science in our world.
Perhaps even more important than specific examples of science in our lives are the ways we use scientific thought, method and inquiry to come to our decisions. The process of inquiry is how we find answers and substantiate those answers. In the fields of hard science, the process of inquiry is more direct and finite: take a question; use evidence to form an explanation; connect that explanation to existing knowledge; and communicate that evidence-based explanation. Experimentation based on the scientific method follows a similar course: combine a scientific question with research to construct a hypothesis; conduct experiments to test that hypothesis; evaluate the results to draw conclusions; and communicate those conclusions.
Although inquiry and the scientific method are integral to science education and practice, every decision we make is based on these processes. Natural human curiosity and necessity lead to asking questions (What is the problem?), constructing a hypothesis (How do I solve it?), testing it with evidence and evaluating the result (Did the solution work?), and making future decisions based on that result.
This is problem-solving: using critical thinking and evidence to create solutions and make decisions. Problem-solving and critical thinking are two of the most important skills students learn in school. They are essential to making good decisions that lead to achievement and success during and after school.
Science education is one of the most important subjects in school due to its relevance to students’ lives and the universally applicable problem-solving and critical thinking skills it uses and develops. These are lifelong skills that allow students to generate ideas, weigh decisions intelligently and even understand the evidence behind public policy-making. Teaching technological literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving through science education gives students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in school and beyond.