Category Archives: 2 Prof. Knowledge & Understanding

(11.02.18) Scientific Literacy

Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes. ‘Scientific literacy is the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence-based conclusions’ (OECD, 2003). This means that a person can ask, find, or come to a conclusion on answers to questions that come from curiosity about everyday experiences relating to science. It means that a person has the ability to describe, explain, and predict scientific occurrences. Scientific literacy includes the skill of being able to read, with understanding, articles about science in everyday reading such as articles on the internet and news stories. Scientific literacy also means that a person can identify scientific issues that impact national and local decisions. What is also achieved is the ability to express opinions that are scientifically informed. A scientifically literate individual should be able to evaluate the quality of scientific information based on its source and the methods used to create it. (National Research Council, 1996, page 22)

In the 1990s the scare of vaccines and autism being related took off. Due to a report being realised about how the MMR vaccine was related to autism in children. This resulted in a massive scare and many parents did not want to take the risk of being the reason their child developed autism. Therefore, many children did not receive the vaccine putting them at risk of developing measles, mumps and rubella. The horrendous factor in this is that the researcher – Andrew Wakefield lied about some of the conditions of the children when he did his sample group and all the testing. The overall outcome of this paper being published with fake results has put many children and adults at risk of becoming seriously ill. Even with papers being published and doctors encouraging all children to get the vaccine there are still some parents who are scared so will not get the vaccine or allow their children to.

The major reason as to why the terror surrounding the MMR vaccine spread so quickly was down to the media coverage. There was a lack of understanding around the research Wakefield had conducted (Goldacre, 2009). Take the sample size Wakefield decided on – 12 children. Having a large sample size is important to have more reliable data and to include a variety of people to represent the population. Having 12 people is too small of a sample size to prove the idea that the MMR vaccine causes autism. However, this point was overlooked by the media who subsequently focused on the shocking nature of Wakefield’s research. The Mail as an example; “Scientists fear MMR link to autism” (Beck, 2006). By not focusing on the scientific aspect of Wakefield’s published research, the media helped create a false image of the vaccine and led to a severe decrease in people taking the vaccine.

When teaching a science lesson, it is key that the children learn and understand the importance of fair testing. Fair testing can be conducted by ensuring that only one factor is changed while all other variables stay the same. Fair testing is one of the most important elements when carrying out an experiment. The reason for this is the fact it creates a scientifically valuable outcome allowing the children to draw reliable and accurate data from the results.

The exploration within the topic of fair testing can help children show a basic understanding of their scientific knowledge and literacy of scientific concepts. Giving children the opportunity to participate in science experiments that require the process of fair testing will allow them to explore and challenge their scientific literacy.



  • Beck, S. (2006) ‘Scientists fear MMR link to autism’, The Mail, Available at:
  • Goldacre, B. Bad Science (London: Fourth Estate, 2009)
  • National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
  • OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] (2003) The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework – Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem-Solving Knowledge and Skills. Paris: OECD.
  • Science Buddies. (2018). Doing a Fair Test: Variables for Beginners. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9th Feb. 2018].

(Claire Campbell, Amy Johnston, Amy Laing, Elise Clark and Emily Lloyd)

(16.01.18) Don’t wind yourself, miss!

Today we had an input on voice management and how important it is to use your voice correctly. When I sluggishly walked in to the lecture theatre at 9 this morning, I had no idea what I was going to learn. I guess I had never really put much thought into it. I guess that I had always assumed that I’d be okay. However, thinking about it in hindsight, what did I think was going to happen? That by using some sort of telepathic connection, the children would hear the meltdown in my head and stare silently? That’s just madness.

The vocal chords are a tool. A very powerful one at that, if and when used correctly. The lecturer gave an amazing analogy. Imagine a balloon, blow it up and don’t tie it. The balloon is your lungs and diaphragm, full of air. The part you left open, is your vocal chord. If you let the air out you will hear a noise from the rubber flapping together. In short, that’s what happens when you speak. This made it apparent, that if you don’t use your air intake correctly all your doing is straining the vocal chords. I know what your thinking, it’s crazy right? How the lack of knowledge of your lung capacity and breath intake can cause vocal fatigue but hey, every day is a school day, quite literally. After a few breathing exercises I was impressed by how little I knew. I was beginning to understand that if I only use a certain percentage of my lung capacity, I won’t be able to get to that optimum projection without strain.

Not only did I learn about the importance of using your voice correctly, I began to understand the importance of not using your voice at all. Who knew silence could be your friend. ‘The teacher look’ is something we discussed in this mornings lecture. Now, I have been told I have that figured out. However, working in an after school care is a little different from a classroom and although I have had that experience, I am still nervous about being in that classroom environment. No child is the same and certainly, no group of children are the same. My look of disapproval may have worked with the children I knew but who is to say it will work with the children in my class.

For now, I’ll be keeping these notes around for my placement.